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Scientists Say New Ceramics May Lead To Superconductors.

February 13, 1988

BOSTON (AP) _ Researchers in Japan, Switzerland and the United States are experimenting with a new class of ceramics which may carry larger electric currents than other superconductors, a Swiss scientist reported.

Karl Alex Muller, a 1987 Nobel laureate in physics, told a breakfast meeting at Boston University on Friday the new ceramic compounds were discovered in Japan in January.

He said they were duplicated and improved by researchers in his Zurich laboratory.

Meanwhile, Du Pont Co. scientists Friday said they had been able to duplicate the Japanese results and had also identified the structure and composition of the ceramics.

Muller is scheduled to address the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which is holding its annual meeting here, on Monday.

″I am very glad; I’m delighted that we have found these new compounds,″ said Muller, who received an honorary doctorate from the university Thursday. ″With these temperatures, you can be much more optimistic about achieving high currents.″

The new ceramics may overcome a problem with other materials which bar the running of large currents through high-temperature superconductors, researchers said.

Superconductors are materials which allow transmission of electricity with no resistance or loss of energy. Materials which can carry high electric currents and generate large magnetic fields might lead to very fast computers and-long distance transmission of electricity.

A team of scientists at the National Institute for Metals in Tsukuba, Japan, was the first to find superconductivity in the new ceramics, working at 243 degrees below zero.

The material is made up bismuth, strontium, calcium and copper, mixed with oxygen.

Muller indicated that his team working for the International Business Machines Corp. also had been able to identify the material’s structure.

He said his group had achieved superconductivity at higher temperatures than the Japanese, but declined to provide details.

Researchers are writing a report on the results, said IBM spokesman Gerald Present.

Researchers in superconductivity have sought to find a stable, reproducible material that works at temperatures above 288 degrees below zero. Superconductiv ity becomes stronger as temperature drops.

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