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Room-temperature superconductor arrives at last, a dark-matter detector mystery

22 Oct 2020 Hamish Johnston

Finding a material that is a superconductor at room temperature has been the Holy Grail of condensed matter physics for over a century. In this episode we meet Ranga Dias of the University of Rochester whose team has created a material that is a superconductor at 15 °C. The only catch is that it has to be squeezed at a pressure of two million atmospheres, and Dias explains how this pressure could be reduced.

The direct detection of dark matter is also worthy of Holy Grail status, which is why particle physicists where thrilled in June 2020 when the XENON1T collaboration reported a mysterious signal in their dark-matter detector. After the announcement, theorists around the world scrambled to make sense of the signal – resulting in five tantalizing explanations being published in the journal Physical Review Letters. One of those papers was from an international team that includes Jayden Newstead of the University of Melbourne, who joins us to talk about what the XENON1T signal could mean.

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