physics: new find could improve superconductors

Physicists from the University of Colorado at Boulder recently created a brand-new form of matter — the sixth, after solids, liquids, gases, plasmas and Bose-Einstein condensates — that could lead to more efficient power plants, faster and smaller computers, and even magnetically levitated trains. Reported in last week’s Physical Review Letters, the new type of matter, known as a fermionic condensate, is a crucial first step in the development of superconductors (materials in whichelectricity is transmitted with no loss of energy) that work at room temperature, rather than the minus 216 degrees Fahrenheit now required. “This makes me optimistic that the fundamental physics we learn through fermionic condensates will eventually help others design more practical superconducting materials,” lead researcher Deborah Jin, also of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, stated in a press release.

This news brief appeared in the Discoveries column of the Boston Globe’s Health/Science section on 2/03/2004.
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