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New record brings superconductors closer to the mainstream

The advance is yet another step toward making superconductors viable for building effective large-scale smart electricity grids, maglev trains and flywheel energy storage.

First discovered in 1911, superconductors are a class of materials including mercury and lead which, when cooled down to temperatures near absolute zero (–273 °C), can conduct electricity with zero resistance. Today, these materials are used to build the powerful electromagnets that go inside MRI machines, maglev trains and magnetic confinement nuclear reactors (tokamaks). In the future, they could be used to increase the efficiency of the power grid by carrying large amounts of electricity with very little loss.

In the late 1980s, scientists discovered a new class of materials that displayed superconductive properties at temperatures of up to 130 K – well above absolute zero.

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