A team of researchers from EPFL’s Laboratory for Quantum Magnetism could change the way people transmit electricity and the efficiency of the process. Their study on how extremely small particles act in conjunction with magnetism may give other physicists a clue on how to build high-temperature superconductors.
By creating a layer of ceramic material just a single atom thick, a team of scientists from the Paul Scherrer Institut (PSI) in Switzerland were able to measure its magnetic dynamic of the atoms by using an ultrasensitive instrument at the temperature of -140°C. Then, their colleagues at EPFL were able to analyze the measurements with mathematical models and provided the final answer.
So far, the scientific community hasn’t understood how the superconducting properties can occur at temperatures that are much higher than the ones classic superconductivity works at, and hence they had been blind-testing all sorts of materials to see how they behave.
Now, with EPFL’s mathematical model, physicists will be able to go straight to their target of finding the right material for high-temperature superconductivity. If they succeed, in a decade or so we’ll have much more efficient power grids that will work without losses. The energy produced from renewable sources will thus be better transmitted to the consumers and the dirty energy produced will emit less carbon dioxide.
Nowadays, for example, if we take into account all the grid losses (3%) that are due to the inefficiencies inherent to copper or aluminum power lines, and sum all of the losses throughout Switzerland, we’d be able to power a city the size of Geneva.
This is how important superconductivity is and what it can do for our hopefully brighter energy future.