Skip to Content
Uncategorized

Water triggers high temperature superconductivity

The team that last year discovered supeconductivity in iron arsenides reveal another bombshell

Early last year, the world of superconductivity was turned up side down when Hideo Honoso at the Tokyo Institute of Technology in Japan announced the discovery of an entirely new type of high temperature superconductor.

The new material is a certain type of iron arsenide and confounds all known ideas about superconductivity. Iron, after all, is magnetic and so ought to destroy superconductivity, not enhance it.

Exactly how iron works its magic is still unknown but now Honoso has another surprise to throw into the mix. Today, he makes the extraordinary announcement that water vapour can trigger superconductivity in iron arsenide containing strontium at 25 K. Water, it seems, induces some kind of chemical or structural change that triggers the transition at a higher temperature. Exactly how is still puzzle. This, says the team, is an entirely new type of superconducting transition.

Interestingly, the discovery hinged on an accident that almost rivals Flemming’s discovery of antibiotics. Honoso and his team stumbled across the effect after iron arsenide samples mysteriously began to superconduct after being left out in the air for a few hours. To find the cause of the effect, the team exposed similar samples to each of the components of air, trying oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide before finding that water vapour was the culprit.

The question now is whether water can do the same trick with other materials at even higher temperatures (strictly speaking high temperature superconductivity is above 30 K). Expect a flurry of papers as Honoso’s numerous rivals give the idea a run.

Ref: arxiv.org/abs/0903.3710: Water-Induced Superconductivity in SrFe2As2

Deep Dive

Uncategorized

Our best illustrations of 2022

Our artists’ thought-provoking, playful creations bring our stories to life, often saying more with an image than words ever could.

How CRISPR is making farmed animals bigger, stronger, and healthier

These gene-edited fish, pigs, and other animals could soon be on the menu.

The Download: the Saudi sci-fi megacity, and sleeping babies’ brains

This is today’s edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology. These exclusive satellite images show Saudi Arabia’s sci-fi megacity is well underway In early 2021, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia announced The Line: a “civilizational revolution” that would house up…

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023

Every year, we pick the 10 technologies that matter the most right now. We look for advances that will have a big impact on our lives and break down why they matter.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.