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New superconductor record.

After a five-year lull with no reports of a material that could superconduct at temperatures above 127 kelvins, researchers have finally found a record breaker. The new superconductor appears to offer no resistance to electrons at 133 kelvins, a group at the Laboratorium fur Festkorperphysik in Zurich, Switzerland, has announced.

"Finally, something is happening again in high-T [high-transition-temperature superconducting] ," says Andteas Schilling, lead author of the report in the May 6 NATURE.

Unlike the previous recordholder, the new superconducting champion contains mercury instead of thallium. Schilling's team made its discovery while attempting to make a material called mercury-1201, which acts as a superconductor at temperatures of up to 94 kelvins (SN: 3/20/93, p. 182). Mercury-1201 contains a single mercury and copper oxide layer per unit cell of the crystal, and its Russian discoverers hypothesized that additional layers would boost its superconducting temperature. Indeed, the Swiss team has created two-, and three4ayered versions. of the mercury-barium-copper oxide that appear capable of superconducting at 110 and 133 kelvins, respectively,

The researchers haven't determined yet just how their synthesis differed from the originally reported method. But when they examined their product with an electron microscope, they saw clear images of the plate-like grains common to high-temperature superconductors. Within the grains,' they found evidence of multiple layering. Results from measurements of magnetization and resistivity led them to conclude that the triple-layered component of their material mixture could superconduct at 133 kelvins.

Scientists are still far from finding superconductors suitable for everyday applications, though. Says Schilling, "I think this material will have the same

value as thallium compounds, which means it has no practical value because it's poisonous?'
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Title Annotation:new superconductor effective at 133 kelvins
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:May 8, 1993
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