King's Fellow Suchitra Sebastian talked about her proposal to create a new generation of superconductors at the 'Solve for X' summit last week in Cordevalle, California.
Entrepreneurs and scientists from around the world gathered at Google's annual summit to discuss invited 'moonshot proposals'. These are radical ideas for how groundbreaking technology can solve global problems.
Suchitra highlighted the problem of efficiently transmitting and storing electricity from the remote parts of the world, where renewable energy is generated, to the population centres of the world.
Exotic materials known as 'superconductors' can transport and store energy losslessly, but they only function at temperatures less than -100ºC.
Suchitra's solution is to create new superconducting materials that work at higher temperatures. While thus far all known superconducting materials have been found by accident, Suchitra has found a way to create new superconductors by design.
She has discovered a technique to create new superconductors from insulators or poor conductors by applying large external forces to them. In this way, we can develop a new generation of superconductors that work at higher temperatures. She explained the promising work she has already done on this, where she has been able to transform an existing magnetic material into a new superconductor.
"What we are witnessing", she says, "is the dawn of a new materials era, and it's going to lead to a revolution which will surpass even the Industrial Revolution."