A Room-Temperature Semiconductor Upgrades the MRI

Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, systems feature powerful superconducting electromagnets. The superconducting materials used in the devices, however, usually work only at extremely low temperatures — lower than any natural temperatures on Earth. And the cost to keep the materials at cryogenic temperatures is a high one.

Compressing simple molecular solids with hydrogen at extremely high pressures, University of Rochester engineers  have, for the first time, created material that is superconducting at room temperature. The team combined hydrogen with carbon and sulfur to photochemically synthesize simple organic-derived carbonaceous sulfur hydride in a diamond anvil cell, a research device used to examine miniscule amounts of materials under extraordinarily high pressure. The carbonaceous sulfur hydride exhibited superconductivity at about 58 degrees Fahrenheit and a pressure of about 267 billion pascals, about a million times higher than a typical automobile tire pressure.