For as long as scientists have known superconductors exist, they have been experimenting with them to make them part of everyday technology. In some places they are, such as MRI machines and some Maglev trains, but their need of low temperatures inhibits them from being used in many situations. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Florida State University, and the University of Michigan however have recently created an artificial superconductor that may help others create room-temperature versions.
This new material is actually comprised of 24 layers that alternate between a layer of a pnictide superconductor and strontium titanate, an oxide. Pnictide supercondutors contain nitrogen atoms or other elements in the same periodic family. Combining these different compounds into a single material is very challenging because of their different molecular structures, which is why the resulting material is called a superlattice. The researchers succeeded though and created a superconductor that could potentially be used as a superconducting quantum interference device, as well as further our understanding of superconductivity.
Specifically it is the knowledge of how electrons behave at the interfaces within a superlattice that could lead to improved superconductors. There is reason to believe it is these interfaces that will lead to a new era for superconductivity research.
Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison