Usually, the movement of electrons in a real material is rather different from the flow of water in a river. However, in extraordinary materials like the metal oxide PdCoO2, “electron rivers” can exist, as predicted theoretically over fifty years ago and now demonstrated by scientists from the MPI CPfS.
Although one might think that when there is an electric current in a metal, the electrons flow like water would in a pipe, that is actually not the case. Their motion is impeded because they bounce off the atoms that make up the metallic crystal, and the flow process is not nearly as interesting as the ones that we can see at play any time we sit next to a river.
For ‘electron rivers’ to exist, one needs to find extraordinary materials in which the collisions with the host atoms are thousands of times weaker than usual. Although this possibility, known as ‘electronic hydrodynamics’, was predicted theoretically over fifty years ago, it has taken until now to reach the new regime in a bulk material.
In Science Magazine (volume 351, 4th March 2016; see also the article “Perspectives” by J. Zaanen), three papers simultaneously reported experimental success. The groups of Philip Kim at Harvard and Andre Geim at Manchester worked on graphene, but the contribution from the Mackenzie and Moll groups from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids Dresden was based on an oxide metal.
Our material of choice, PdCoO2, has an astonishingly high electrical conductivity, making it possible to look for hydrodynamic effects. To reveal their presence, we sculpted successively narrower channels, and studied how easily the electrons could flow through them.
By combining our results with a special theory that is able to model hydrodynamic effects, we were able to show that we had indeed created the long-predicted electron rivers. The research opens new frontiers in research into electron behavior in ultra-pure materials.
The richness seen in the flow of water might be observable in the flow of electrons, and some of this richness might one day also lead to the invention of new electronic devices. We hope to play a leading role in these developments.
The research at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids (MPI CPfS) in Dresden aims to discover and understand new materials with unusual properties. In close cooperation, chemists and physicists (including chemists working on synthesis, experimentalists and theoreticians) use the most modern tools and methods to examine how the chemical composition and arrangement of atoms, as well as external forces, affect the magnetic, electronic and chemical properties of the compounds. New quantum materials, physical phenomena and materials for energy conversion are the result of this interdisciplinary collaboration.
The MPI CPfS (www.cpfs.mpg.de) is part of the Max Planck Society and was founded in 1995 in Dresden. It consists of around 280 employees, of which about 180 are scientists, including 70 doctoral students.
Ingrid Rothe | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemische Physik fester Stoffe
Serendipity uncovers borophene's potential
23.02.2017 | Northwestern University
20.02.2017 | Arizona State University
In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport
Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...
The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.
The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...
Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...
Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".
Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...
13.02.2017 | Event News
10.02.2017 | Event News
09.02.2017 | Event News
24.02.2017 | Life Sciences
24.02.2017 | Life Sciences
24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News