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Wine may help improve Superconductivity

Posted: Friday, 13 May 2011 16:15

Wine may help improve Superconductivity

May 13: A majority of Indian scientists may not even ‘touch’ wine but they would be curious to learn more about a recent discovery in Japan which found that red wine makes a metal compound superconductive and one day may help revolutionize efficient energy transmission, thus making some of them go the lab with red wine bottles.

Since the study found that better the wine tasted, better the effect it had on the superconductivity, they might be obliged to convert and try hundreds of red wine truly in the cause of science.

The Japanese researchers plan to showcase later this year their findings which they stumbled upon accidentally at an office party where wine and beer etc were being served. The "eureka" moment came when National Institute for Materials Science researchers found that an iron-based compound became superconductive after being soaked in alcoholic drinks such as beer, wine and sake.

The ratio at which compounds became superconductive was seven times higher when dipped in red wine than for ethanol or water. It was four times higher for white wine and three times higher for beer, sake and whisky. They are not yet clear on how exactly it worked.

"The better it tastes, the more effective it is," the institute's lead researcher Yoshihiko Takano said, while conceding that taste is subjective." There may be a connection between the substance we humans sense as a taste and the substance that induces superconductivity,” he reportedly said according to the news item in AFP

The team hopes the finding will help in the quest to one day unleash the potential of superconductivity to build power infrastructure that reduces energy use and mankind's reliance on climate-changing fossil fuels.

In superconductivity, electrical resistance suddenly drops to zero in some metals when they are cooled to near absolute zero (-273 °C). This also produces a strong magnetic field. This effect has found several applications including in MRI body scanners.

The dream is to find materials that can become superconductors at room temperature, which would allow zero-loss transmission of power over vast distances.

Takano's team made their discovery when they put tablets of an iron-based compound into alcoholic drinks at an office party a year ago. The team found that after being soaked for 24 hours in red wine or other alcoholic beverages, the compound became superconductive when cooled to about -265°C.

Takano plans to present his findings at a European conference in September in The Hague, near Leiden where Heike Kamerlingh Onnes discovered superconductivity in 1911-100 years ago.

It is not yet clear whether the experiment was carried out with wines opened fresh or using open bottles. It is also not documented in the report release by AFP whether there was any relationship with the country of origin or the grape varietals- grapes like Cabernet, Tannat and Nebbiolo are higher in tannins than say, Merlot, Pinot Noir or Zinfandel.


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