New Frontiers in Superconductivity: Superhydrides under Extreme Conditions

Nature-reserch

First room-temperature superconductor excites and baffles scientists

Superconductivity has been one of the most profound quantum phases in condensed matter physics. Efforts to identify and develop room temperature superconducting materials are an intensive area of research, motivated by both fundamental science and the prospects for applications. More than a century of rigorous research has led physicists to believe that the highest Tc that can be achieved is 40K for conventional superconductors. However, the recent discovery of superconductivity in hydrogen sulfide at 203K changed the notion of what might be possible for phonon–mediated superconductors. This paradigm shift in our understanding of superconductivity centered around hydrogen. Metallic hydrogen is theorized to have high Debye temperature and strong electron-phonon coupling necessary for high-Tc phonon-mediated superconductivity. However, it requires extreme pressure. As an alternative, hydrogen-rich materials, mimicking the elusive phase of hydrogen (chemical precompression), can be metalized at much lower pressures. Thus far, research is mainly focused on binary superhydrides at ultra-high pressures. The primary objective of this project is to find superconductors with a critical temperature comparable to room temperature at much reduced pressures.