U.S. scientists unveil 'reddmatter' superconductor breakthrough that could revolutionize energy, if true

Scientists at the University of Rochester reported this week that they have taken a big leap toward creating a commercially viable superconductor that operates at room temperature and a low enough level of high pressure to be used in almost any technology that uses electric energy. Ranga Dias, a professor of mechanical engineering and physics, announced his team's findings on Tuesday to a packed room at an American Physical Society meeting in Las Vegas. And the breakthrough was detailed Wednesday in a paper published in the journal Nature.

Superconductors, first discovered in 1911, conduct electric currents without any resistance, or loss of energy through heat. But they only lose their resistance at extremely cold temperatures and extremely high pressure. Dias' team says it created a material — called "reddmatter" because it turns red under pressure and in homage to the 2009 film Star Trek — that can act as a superconductor at up to 69 degrees Fahrenheit and 145,000 pounds per square inch (psi). That's about 10,000 times more pressure that the 15 psi at sea level, but engineers already make commercially accessible products, like microchips and synthetic diamonds, using more than 145,000 psi.

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.