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Conventional superconductivity at 203 kelvin at high pressures in the sulfur hydride system

Nature volume 525, pages 7376 (03 September 2015) | Download Citation

Abstract

A superconductor is a material that can conduct electricity without resistance below a superconducting transition temperature, Tc. The highest Tc that has been achieved to date is in the copper oxide system1: 133 kelvin at ambient pressure2 and 164 kelvin at high pressures3. As the nature of superconductivity in these materials is still not fully understood (they are not conventional superconductors), the prospects for achieving still higher transition temperatures by this route are not clear. In contrast, the Bardeen–Cooper–Schrieffer theory of conventional superconductivity gives a guide for achieving high Tc with no theoretical upper bound—all that is needed is a favourable combination of high-frequency phonons, strong electron–phonon coupling, and a high density of states4. These conditions can in principle be fulfilled for metallic hydrogen and covalent compounds dominated by hydrogen5,6, as hydrogen atoms provide the necessary high-frequency phonon modes as well as the strong electron–phonon coupling. Numerous calculations support this idea and have predicted transition temperatures in the range 50–235 kelvin for many hydrides7, but only a moderate Tc of 17 kelvin has been observed experimentally8. Here we investigate sulfur hydride9, where a Tc of 80 kelvin has been predicted10. We find that this system transforms to a metal at a pressure of approximately 90 gigapascals. On cooling, we see signatures of superconductivity: a sharp drop of the resistivity to zero and a decrease of the transition temperature with magnetic field, with magnetic susceptibility measurements confirming a Tc of 203 kelvin. Moreover, a pronounced isotope shift of Tc in sulfur deuteride is suggestive of an electron–phonon mechanism of superconductivity that is consistent with the Bardeen–Cooper–Schrieffer scenario. We argue that the phase responsible for high-Tc superconductivity in this system is likely to be H3S, formed from H2S by decomposition under pressure. These findings raise hope for the prospects for achieving room-temperature superconductivity in other hydrogen-based materials.

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Acknowledgements

Support provided by the European Research Council under the 2010 Advanced Grant 267777 is acknowledged. We appreciate help provided in MPI Chemie by U. Pöschl. We thank P. Alireza and G. Lonzarich for help with samples of CuTi; J. Kamarad, S. Toser and C. Q. Jin for sharing their experience on SQUID measurements; K. Shimizu and his group for cooperation; P. Chu and his group for many discussions and collaboration, and L. Pietronero, M. Calandra and T. Timusk for discussions. V.K. and S.I.S. acknowledge the DFG (Priority Program No. 1458) for support. M.I.E. thanks H. Musshof and R. Wittkowski for precision machining of the DACs.

Author information

Author notes

    • A. P. Drozdov
    •  & M. I. Eremets

    These authors contributed equally to this work.

Affiliations

  1. Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie, Hahn-Meitner-Weg 1, 55128 Mainz, Germany

    • A. P. Drozdov
    • , M. I. Eremets
    •  & I. A. Troyan
  2. Institut für Anorganische Chemie und Analytische Chemie, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Staudingerweg 9, 55099 Mainz, Germany

    • V. Ksenofontov
    •  & S. I. Shylin

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Contributions

A.P.D. performed the most of the experiments and contributed to the data interpretation and writing the manuscript. M.I.E. designed the study, wrote the major part of the manuscript, developed the DAC for SQUID measurements, and participated in the experiments. I.A.T. participated in experiments. V.K. and S.I.S. performed the magnetic susceptibility measurements and contributed to writing the manuscript. M.I.E. and A.P.D. contributed equally to this paper.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to M. I. Eremets.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nature14964

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