Magnesium Diboride

Authored by: Chiara Tarantini

Handbook of Superconductivity

Print publication date:  July  2022
Online publication date:  July  2022

Print ISBN: 9781439817322
eBook ISBN: 9780429179181
Adobe ISBN:


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Despite having been synthesized as far back as the 1950s, the superconducting properties of magnesium diboride (MgB2) were only discovered at the beginning of 2001. Akimitsu and his group were attempting to make a chemical analogue of CaB6 by replacing Ca with Mg (Cava 2001). They intended to use MgB2, a compound commercially available, as starting material and, during a routine characterization of MgB2 properties before using it in the synthesis, they discovered that it had a superconducting transition T c at 39 K (Nagamatsu et al., 2001). Although high-T c superconductivity in cuprates had already been studied for 15 years, this discovery aroused huge surprise because the highest T c in a simple intermetallic compound was 23 K (Nb3Ge) and because the theoretical limit for conventional BCS superconductors, whose properties are mediated by the electron–phonon interaction, was thought to be 30 K. Moreover, from a practical point of view, MgB2's high critical temperature in principle allowed working with liquid hydrogen or cryocoolers at an operational temperature above 20 K, thus obviating the expense and availability issues of liquid helium.

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