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Scientists find new compounds with high-temperature superconductivity under pressure

March 31, 2016, 15:59 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Superconductors are used in various devices such as high-sensitivity magnetometers or high-field magnets for magnetic resonance tomography, or particle accelerators

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© Skoltech press service

MOSCOW, March 31. /TASS/. Researchers from Russia (Skoltech and Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology), USA and China have predicted unusual tin hydrides (SnH8, SnH12, SnH14) that are stable under pressure and also show high-temperature superconductivity, reports Skoltech press-service. Previously, only traditional tin hydride SnH4 was known, and it was predicted to become a superconductor at high pressures and up to relatively high temperatures (52 K).

“Novel compounds demonstrate superconductivity at higher temperatures (up to 100 K) compared with analogous materials”, says the press-release.   

The race for high-temperature superconductors has been running for many years already and it involved researchers all around the world; this work is part of this race. Superconductivity is a quantum phenomenon discovered in 1911 by the group of Dutch physicist Kammerling-Onnes. It manifests itself through a complete disappearance of electrical resistance accompanied by the expulsion of magnetic field from the material.  Originally, superconductivity was observed only in some simple metals, such as mercury or aluminum, at temperatures of only a few degrees Kelvin above the absolute zero (-273°C).

The so-called “high-temperature superconductors” display superconductivity at significantly higher absolute temperatures of the order of 40-138 Kelvin (-173°C). Despite the need to cool them down, superconductors are already used today in various devices such as, for example, high-sensitivity magnetometers or high-field magnets for magnetic resonance tomography, or particle accelerators.

“These compounds are also very interesting from the viewpoint of chemistry, because their chemicals compositions are hard to explain within classical chemistry and they contain new anion types: linear H4 groups or new H3 configurations”, – says the leader of research group, Skoltech Professor Artem Oganov.

For this search, evolutionary algorithm USPEX (Universal Structure Predictor: Evolutionary Xtallography) was employed. Results of the study were published in journal “Scientific Reports”.

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