Some of the blackouts that struck California this winter might have been avoided if power companies could more quickly move large amounts of electricity between regions. Such a boost may be possible with a new type of superconducting tape invented at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Superconductivity Technology Center. Made from nickel alloy, the tape is coated with fine layers of zirconia using a pulsed-laser process that precisely orients the zirconia grains after deposition. Then subsequent layers of nickel are applied to create a superconducting film as thin as six micrometers. The tape carries one million amperes per square centimeter of current, about 14 times the capacity of today’s bismuth-based superconducting tape and 200 times better than copper wire. The liquid-nitrogen-cooled tape can operate at a relatively balmy -196 C, making it far more economical than many existing high-capacity tapes that require cooling by liquid helium at temperatures as low as -269 C. The new process is also much faster than earlier methods. Within two to three years the tape should appear in products including transformers, electric motors and transmission cables. -V. Herrera
These weird virtual creatures evolve their bodies to solve problems
They show how intelligence and body plans are closely linked—and could unlock AI for robots.
Surgeons have successfully tested a pig’s kidney in a human patient
The test, in a brain-dead patient, was very short but represents a milestone in the long quest to use animal organs in human transplants.
A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click
Deepfake researchers have long feared the day this would arrive.
The covid tech that is intimately tied to China’s surveillance state
Heat-sensing cameras and face recognition systems may help fight covid-19—but they also make us complicit in the high-tech oppression of Uyghurs.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.