Alasdair Wilkins writes on io9.com:
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A leading candidate for room temperature superconductors is the copper compound cuprate, but no one knew how cuprates facilitated superconductivity … until some brave souls looked inside a black hole and broke out the string theory to explain how they work.
Superconductors that can transmit massive amounts of electricity with zero resistance at room temperature are pretty much the holy grail of applied physics (with good reason), but we’re still a long way away from actually building one.
Indeed, even figuring out the theoretical underpinnings of a room temperature superconductor has proven tremendously difficult, although a team of MIT physicists may have found an unlikely — and brilliant — way to learn more about how they would work. But first, a little backstory.
Currently, there are two types of superconductors. One group is the low temperature superconductors, which can only work at temperatures near absolute zero and thus require gigantically impractical amounts of coolants.