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Scientists Find Amounts of Superconducting Material Inside Meteorite Pieces

Superconductivity in nature is extremely rare on Earth, but that might not be the case for the rest of the universe.

A group of scientists has discovered a number of superconducting materials inside two different meteorites. These two are home to superconductive grains, embedded deep inside them. This discovery holds enormous importance since it proves that meteorites are not just space debris, and their components are significant in our venture to the depths of space. We have a lot to learn from them since they've been to places humanity has never roamed before. 

In case you don't know, superconductivity is a set of physical properties that makes a material have the best electrical conductivity. There is no electrical resistance in such materials, and this sort of phenomenon is extremely rare in Earth, at least in natural materials that haven't been constructed to be that way. 

As you'd imagine, these materials are sought after by numerous companies. Quantum computer companies are one of those, and they are trying to find new ways to improve the way energy is transferred.

Luckily, it looks like objects out of our touch in space might be home to such materials. In this new study, led by researchers from UC San Diego, scientists took a good look into the fragments from 15 different meteorites. 

SEE ALSO: LIFE ON MARS: NASA ROVER COULD HAVE FOUND EVIDENCE OF ANCIENT LIFE, RESEARCHERS SAY

The technique they used was the magnetic field modulated microwave spectroscopy. It might be a mouthful; however, it is extremely useful at detecting traces of superconductivity.

The results showed two of those containing amounts of extraterrestrial superconductive grains. The first one was an iron meteorite called Mundrabilla, which is one of the largest meteorites ever found on Earth. It was first discovered in Australia in 1911.

This is the piece of Mundrabilla which had the superconductive grains.

Scientists Find Amounts of Superconducting Material Inside Meteorite Pieces
Source: UCSD/James Wampler

The other was a rare meteorite called GRA 95205, located in Antarctica 25 years ago. 

Physicist and nanoscientist James Wampler said, “These measurements and analysis identified the likely phases of alloys of lead, indium, and tin.”

This is such an astonishing find, and the authors explain why in their paper, “Even the simplest superconducting mineral, lead, is only rarely found naturally in its native form, and, to our knowledge, there are no previous reports of natural lead samples superconducting. In fact, we are only aware of one previous report of superconductivity in natural materials, in the mineral covellite.”

This is such an important find that requires intensive investigation since they exist in two dissimilar meteorites. According to the scientists, because of this very reason, it is likely that they exist in other meteorites too.

Their findings are reported in PNAS.

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