Chemistry of High-Temperature Superconductors

Science  16 Dec 1988:
Vol. 242, Issue 4885, pp. 1519-1527
DOI: 10.1126/science.242.4885.1519


Spectacular advances in superconductors have taken place in the past two years. The upper temperature for superconductivity has risen from 23 K to 122 K, and there is reason to believe that the ascent is still ongoing. The materials causing this excitement are oxides. Those oxides that superconduct at the highest temperatures contain copper-oxygen sheets; however, other elements such as bismuth and thallium play a key role in this new class of superconductors. These superconductors are attracting attention because of the possibility of a wide range of applications and because the science is fascinating. A material that passes an electrical current with virtually no loss is more remarkable when this occurs at 120 K instead of 20 K.