This ability to create and control tiny superconducting structures has implications for a completely new generation of electronic devices.
Superconductivity is a special state where a material conducts electricity with no resistance, meaning absolutely zero energy is wasted.
The research group has shown that they can manipulate regions of high temperature superconductivity, in a particular material which combines oxygen, copper and a heavier, ‘rare earth’ element called lanthanum. Illuminating with X-rays causes a small scale re-arrangement of the oxygen atoms in the material, resulting in high temperature superconductivity, of the type originally discovered for such materials 25 years ago by IBM scientists. The X-ray beam is then used like a pen to draw shapes in two dimensions.
A well as being able to write superconductors with dimensions much smaller than the width of a human hair, the group is able to erase those structures by applying heat treatments. They now have the tools to write and erase with high precision, using just a few simple steps and without the chemicals ordinarily used in device fabrication. This ability to re-arrange the underlying structure of a material has wider applications to similar compounds containing metal atoms and oxygen, ranging from fuel cells to catalysts.
Prof. Aeppli, Director of the London Centre for Nanotechnology and the UCL investigator on the project, said: “Our validation of a one-step, chemical-free technique to generate superconductors opens up exciting new possibilities for electronic devices, particularly in re-writing superconducting logic circuits. Of profound importance is the key to solving the notorious ‘travelling salesman problem’, which underlies many of the world’s great computational challenges. We want to create computers on demand to solve this problem, with applications from genetics to logistics. A discovery like this means a paradigm shift in computing technology is one step closer.”
Prof Bianconi, the leader of the team from Sapienza, added: “It is amazing that in a few simple steps, we can now add superconducting ‘intelligence’ directly to a material consisting mainly of the common elements copper and oxygen.”
The X-ray experiments were performed at the Elettra (Trieste) synchrotron radiation facility. The work is published in Nature Materials , 21 August 2011 (doi:1038/nmat3088) and follows on from previous discovery of fractal-like structures in superconductors (doi:10.1038/nature09260).
Dave Weston | EurekAlert!
Decoding cement's shape promises greener concrete
08.12.2016 | Rice University
Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D
08.12.2016 | DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
08.12.2016 | Life Sciences
08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences