Superconductivity is the phenomenon in which a material losses all its electrical resistance and allowing electric current to flow without dissipation or loss of energy. The atoms in materials vibrate due to thermal energy contained in the materials: the higher the temperature, the more the atoms vibrate. An ordinary conductor's electrical resistance is caused by these atomic vibrations, which obstruct the movement of the electrons forming the current. If an ordinary conductor were to be cooled to a temperature of absolute zero, atomic vibrations would cease, electrons would flow without obstruction, and electrical resistance would fall to zero. A temperature of absolute zero cannot be achieved in practice, but some materials exhibit superconducting characteristics at higher temperatures.
In 1911, the Dutch physicist Heike Kamerlingh Onnes discovered superconductivity in mercury at a temperature of approximately 4 K (-269o C). Many other superconducting metals and alloys were subsequently discovered but, until 1986, the highest temperature at which superconducting properties were achieved was around 23 K (-250o C) with the niobium-germanium alloy (Nb3Ge)
In 1986 George Bednorz and Alex Muller discovered a metal oxide that exhibited superconductivity at the relatively high temperature of 30 K (-243o C). This led to the discovery of ceramic oxides that super conduct at even higher temperatures. In 1988, and oxide of thallium, calcium, barium and copper (Ti2Ca2Ba2Cu3O10) displayed superconductivity at 125 K (-148o C), and, in 1993 a family based on copper oxide and mercury attained superconductivity at 160 K (-113o C). These "high-temperature" superconductors are all the more noteworthy because ceramics are usually extremely good insulators.
Like ceramics, most organic compounds are strong insulators; however, some organic materials known as organic synthetic metals do display both conductivity and superconductivity. In the early 1990's, one such compound was shown to super conduct at approximately 33 K (-240o C). Although this is well below the temperatures achieved for ceramic oxides, organic superconductors are considered to have great potential for the future.
New superconducting materials are being discovered on a regular basis, and the search is on for room temperature superconductors, which, if discovered, are expected to revolutionize electronics. Room temperature superconductors (ultraconductors) are being developed for commercial applications by Room Temperature Superconductors Inc.(ROOTS).Ultraconductors are the result of more than 16 years of scientific research ,independent laboratory testing and eight years of engineering development. From an engineering perspective, ultraconductors are a fundamentally new and enabling technology. These materials are claimed to conduct electricity at least 100,000 times better than gold, silver or copper.
Ultraconductors are patented1 polymers being developed for commercial applications by Room Temperature Superconductors Inc (ROOTS). The materials exhibit a characteristic set of properties including conductivity and current carrying capacity equivalent to superconductors, but without the need for cryogenic support.
The Ultraconductor properties appear in thin (5 - 100 micron) films of certain dielectric polymers following an induced, non-reversible transition at zero field and at ambient temperatures >> 300 K. This transition resembles a formal insulator to conductor (I-C) transition.
The base polymers used are certain viscous polar elastomers, obtained by polymerization in the laboratory or as purchased from industrial suppliers. Seven chemically distinct polymers have been demonstrated to date.