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Scientists Solve Mystery of Superinsulators

The opposite of superconductivity might lead to strange new circuits

2 min read

In 2008 a team of physicists from Argonne National Laboratory, in Illinois, and other institutions stumbled upon an odd phenomenon. They called it superinsulation, because in many ways it was the opposite of superconductivity. Now they’ve worked out the theory behind it, potentially opening the doors to better batteries, supersensitive sensors, and strange new circuits.

Superconductors lose all resistance once they fall below a certain temperature. In superinsulators, on the other hand, the resistance to the flow of electricity becomes infinite at very low temperatures, preventing any flow of electric current.

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The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

2 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

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