I am working on a Hard Sci-Fi novel. In this novel Humanity has set up a drilling operation on the fictional exoplanet Hela. They are drilling for Trivesene, which is an Oil like viscus organic substance found in reservoirs underneath the oceans. Trivesene can be turned into the solid Petramene though carbonization. Petramene displays superconductivity at room temperature, a wide pressure range and a critical current of 980 Amp/mm².
In the spirit of Hard Sci-Fi, I want to give Petramene a functional chemical formula. Please note, I know this formula will always be bs. The chances of a random compound being superconducting in the way described are 0. But this is not the point. I want to have a formula which passes the "vibe" check. I.e something a Chemist could look at and not see any immediate problems. Such as impossible / unstable bonds. This is my personal goal, a Formula which works on a technical bases and seems reasonable.
Why is this needed for the Story ? A valid question I am sure some have. This problem could be avoid if the formula never came up. My research into the impact of a Room Temperature Superconductor has however lead me onto a problem of plausibility. The TLDR is that a RTS like Petramene would have such a fundamental and wide spreading effect on Humanity, it can only be compared to the invention of Electricity. We are talking about such a drastic shift in how things are done, history would be divided into the Pre and Post Superconducting era. And personally I just don't buy such an important substance would not be drilled into Childrens heads in Chemistry 101. Like, we are talking about "Page one, what is a Compound ?", picture of Petramene to the left with the formula type deals of cultural significance. A gameshow question, that one fun fact everyone knows. Like how Mitochondria is the powerhouse of the Cell.
Now I will come out and say that the story is about Environmental protection wrapped in a emotional exploitation metaphor, with the core character dynamic being metaphorical for how Humanity is threating the planet in their exploitation affords. So the story gives lip service to the Formula, just like it just acknowledges the existence of the Interstellar Ships that brought Ellie (MC) to the planet. It all exists in the background and has limited importance to the plot. But, I am personally not satisfied with leaving it at that. I went into a lot of afford for instance in making the Interstellar logistics work, and this lead to a couple of cool scenes as well as a central part of the ending. And while I doubt a chemical formula will have a same effect, I still want one just to maintain the standard I set for other aspects. Be it logistics or the Alien lifeforms.
What I have so far
Since the goal is to make a fake compound which passes as a Superconductor I went to this list and some other sites to create a collection of elements found in real ones.
These are all the elements which could reasonable be a part of Petramene. Furthermore I was advised by a friend to look into Covalent superconductors as they contain a lot of Carbon.
Why Carbon ? As I mentioned before, Petramene is made out of Trivesene. Which is at the end of the day just a very complex organic compound. So it has to be made out of dead stuff. Similar to Oil.
To illustrate my motivation behind how Trivesene is made on Hela, but not Earth. Because if I am going to claim this stuff is worth going Interstellar for, then there better be a good reason for why it is not abundant on Earth. Two factors are responsible for the relative abundance of Trivesene on Hela, but lack on Earth.
First, Hela has deeper oceans (up to 30 kilometers). Second, Hela is a lot more geologically active. The depth of the oceans, in my mind, is important because it allows for dead stuff to sink to the bottom withouth being eaten. As life physically needs longer to adapt to the deep sea. So we have a layer of organic materials on the ocean floor which will remain untouched way longer than they were on Earth. The Volcanic / Geological activity comes into play as it deposits other elements, such as Iron or Bismuth, onto the organic layer. This mixture is then cooked for a few 100 million years and Tada you have Trivesene.
This stuff does occur on Earth, there just isn't a lot of it. The conditions of Earth didn't allow for it to form, and even then Earth is older than Hela by about 1 Billion years. Trivesene is not stable and will eventually be destroyed by Natrual processes. Geology and life on Earth just had more time to get rid of the little bit of Trivesene there was. While on Hela, the stuff basically peaked right now.
I think this justification (Wrong Conditions + more time to destroy it) are plausible enough for why there is basically non of this stuff left on Earth. But if not I am happy to change it with something more accurate.
My original idea was to take real world superconductors, like $Li_3Ca_2C_6$ and say $H_2S$, and slap them together. For instance to form the total abomination that is $LiCa_2C_6Fe_2MgSCu_2O_6$. But I was quickly told this was a bad plan. Which is true, it is lazy at best.
Looking at real Superconductors you can see certain trends. I want to use these trends, together with some personal requirements, to kind of limit where this formula goes.
- Long Formula (high temperature superconductors tend to be very long compounds or Cuprates. Presumably a RTS wont be $Li_2S$)
- Carbon / Graphene structures (from a discussion I read on Organic Superconductivity, people seem to think if such a thing exists it would involve Graphene ($C_6$ for example) bonds
- Rare-earth element (in order for Petramene to be believable it would have to include some relatively uncommon stuff, Bismuth for instance, in the Trivesene form)
- Organic (This is covered in the Carbon section but I just wanted to mention it. For the "backstory" to work it kind of needs to be organic)
And this is where I am stuck. I can make you a random Compound that does not break the bare minimum of rules, such as being neutral, but I just don't know nearly enough about Chemistry to really judge anything in particular.
To add to the problem, I have a extremely hard time understanding what makes any specific compound easy to produce. The whole scenario kind of bets on there not being an easy way to make Trivesene. But if I slap out the Formular for Petramene I set myself up to the standard that there really shouldn't be an obvious way of making it. Making Petramene say $C_2Bi_2Sr_2CuSO_6$ wouldn't work for example. Hence the length requirement, as far as I can tell longer compounds tend to be harder to make on scale.
I am for instance totally willing to say they can make Trivesene, but it would just take to much energy. To the point where going Interstellar is the better option.
What I need
Help first and foremost xD I don't really want to ask someone to sit down and make a 20 element long compound for some random stranger. So really, I would like some advice on how to achieve my goal. Are there any books I can read ? Any websites ? I am already through like half of Professor Dave Explains playlist of Chemistry. But lets just say I nearly failed to get into Uni duo to my chemistry grade.
Of course, if there is some Samaritan out here who has a bit of time to spare I wont complain. But from all the reading I have done so far, this really isn't an easy task and requires some actual consideration. The moment a formula is dropped this way, the bar is sky high. I would basically say to the reader "And now prove me otherwise". Which is a really bad idea if I myself am not sure how bullet proved it is.
I also want to end this by saying I know this is a really unimportant aspect in the grand scheme of things. If I didn't have the plot, character arcs etc. worked out I also wouldn't ask this. Because it is just not that important. But these things are worked out. If I cant find a solution, ill just drop the idea. But I had the same "Dive into a rabbit hole" with the interstellar logistics and making all of that Hard Sci-Fi and this resulted in some very cool visual / plot aspects. So I am willing to do this again. To an extend. Obviously we allow some significant handwaving by having Room Temperature Superconductivity in the first place.
Thanks for reading ! I hope this question matches the standards of this site and I explained my problem sufficiently.
I did prove read this, but English is not my first language so please excuse any grammatical or spelling mistakes. If you need / want clarifications, I am happy to provide whatever is needed !
Thanks again and have a nice day !