In a large complex located at Greifswald in the north-east corner of Germany, sits a new and unusual nuclear fusion reactor awaiting a few final tests before being powered-up for the very first time. Dubbed the Wendelstein 7-x fusion stellarator, it has been more than 15 years in the making and is claimed to be so magnetically efficient that it will be able to continuously contain super-hot plasma in its enormous magnetic field for more than 30 minutes at a time. If successful, this new reactor may help realize the long-held goal of continuous operation essential for the success of nuclear fusion power generation.
With their zero electrical resistance and remarkable magnetic and thermal conductive properties, superconductors have the potential to revolutionize numerous technologies. The trouble is, they work best at cryogenic temperatures in the neighborhood of absolute zero (-273° C, -459° F). As part of the quest to come up with a room temperature superconductor, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz have developed a new record-high-temperature superconductor – and it smells like rotten eggs.
A discovery at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of
Solids could pave the way for further leaps forward in the speed of
electronic systems. The finding that a material called niobium phosphide dramatically
increases its resistance in a magnetic field could lead to faster, higher-capacity hard drives and other electronic