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We first discovered natural superconducting materials in meteorite

We first discovered natural superconducting materials in meteorite


For the first time, scientists have found naturally-occurring superconducting materials in extraterrestrial matter, which are superconducting crystals from the interior of two independent meteorites.

Recent discoveries show that meteorites are not just celestial fragments falling from the sky. A meteorite may be a postman carrying extraterrestrial proteins, minerals we have never seen before, and materials older than the solar system itself. But we have never seen anything like superconductors before.

Superconductivity is a physical property, and the material's "perfect" conductivity means that all internal resistance will disappear. This precious property is extremely rare among natural materials without special treatment, or at least extremely rare on Earth.

Researchers say that above the distant sky, the situation can be very, very different. Extreme environments in space can generate strange material phases not seen on Earth through astronomical events, releasing incredible heat and extremely high temperatures. pressure.

Therefore, it is believed that meteorite may be an ideal object for exploring natural superconductors. The only problem is that previous searches have failed.

In a new study led by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, scientists have used a technique called magnetic field-modulated microwave spectroscopy to detect 15 fragments from different meteorites.

They are binary: one is in the iron meteorite called Mundrabilla-one of the largest meteorite ever discovered, was found in Australia in 1911; the other is a rare meteorite in Antarctica 25 years ago, GRA 95205.

According to the measurement results (the vibration sample magnetic method VSM and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy EDX are also used), these two types of space rocks contain a small amount of extraterrestrial superconducting grains.

Physicist and nanoscientist James Wampler said that Naturally occurring superconducting materials are unusual, but they are particularly important. Measurements and analysis show that their composition may be an alloy of lead, indium, and tin . 

This is a major discovery.

The author explained in the paper that Even the simplest superconducting lead rarely appears in its natural form. To our knowledge, there have been no previous samples of natural superconducting lead. In fact, we only knew one case before about natural superconducting. Minerals report, that's patina. 

That is, superconducting grains are now found in two separate meteorites, and are found from such tiny rock samples-meaning that there may be a large amount of superconducting phase matter in the astronomical environment, and their superconductivity Characteristics in turn can have various effects on the interstellar environment.

The research team wrote that Superconducting grains in the cold regions of space may have an impact on the structure of stellar objects. In particular, superconducting particles can maintain a microscopic current loop generated by a transient field, and have enhanced nearby magnetic fields . 

We can only guess how significant these phenomena can be, but if we are planning to brew new problems, it is time to start thinking.

The analysis report can be found in PNAS.

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