Gold and Precious Metals

‘gold, Silver Nanoparticles Display Superconductivity’ | Bengaluru News

Bengaluru: Energy loss during power transmission, in the form of heat, puts both the electricity producer and consumer at huge economic disadvantage. Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), who have been studying properties of metals silver and gold, may have found a way to cut this loss.
A team of researchers from the solid state and structural chemistry unit (SSCU) of IISc has found that certain properties of gold and silver nanoparticles give them the ability to exhibit superconductivity at near ambient temperatures, making them more viable for use.
Superconductors are a unique class of materials in which, below a certain temperature, the flow of electrons inside the substance does not encounter any resistance and as a result, the flow of electrons does not generate any heat, unlike in metals like copper. “Silver and gold nanoparticles have conventionally been widely employed in fields such as opto-electronics and biosensing. Despite their other conventional applications, individually, neither silver nor gold nanoparticles have previously been considered as potential candidates for superconductors,” says associate professor Anshu Pandey, who leads the study on engineered nanoparticles made from silver and gold.
Superconductors are employed in a range of specialised devices like quantum computers and MRI machines used for medical diagnostics. “Superconductors can greatly boost efficiency of devices and help overcome grid losses encountered when electricity is transported from power plants to the consumers,” say the researchers.
Most materials exhibit superconductivity either at extremely low temperatures or extremely high pressures or a combination of both, limiting their usage in everyday applications. This also makes the utilisation of existing superconductors expensive and cumbersome.
Need more work for practical applications
The materials developed by the IISc team consist of silver nanoparticles (around 1 nano metre sized) dispersed into a gold matrix in a discrete manner. Previous research by the same team has shown that in some cases, a zero-resistance state could persist in temperatures even higher than 77°C in these engineered materials. “This brings up the possibility of using these materials as zero-resistance interconnects for practical applications. The researchers, however, caution that practical applications involving these materials still require more investigation of their chemistry, particularly to address their instabilities,” said IISc.


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