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
Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously
17.01.2017 | Sonderforschungsbereich 668
Manchester scientists tie the tightest knot ever achieved
13.01.2017 | University of Manchester
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences
17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction