Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Man-made material pushes the bounds of superconductivity

04.03.2013
A multi-university team of researchers has artificially engineered a unique multilayer material that could lead to breakthroughs in both superconductivity research and in real-world applications.

The researchers can tailor the material, which seamlessly alternates between metal and oxide layers, to achieve extraordinary superconducting properties — in particular, the ability to transport much more electrical current than non-engineered materials.

The team includes experts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Florida State University and the University of Michigan. Led by Chang-Beom Eom, the Harvey D. Spangler Distinguished Professor of materials science and engineering and physics at UW-Madison, the group described its breakthrough March 3, 2013, in the advance online edition of the journal Nature Materials.

Superconductors, which presently operate only under extremely cold conditions, transport energy very efficiently. With the ability to transport large electrical currents and produce high magnetic fields, they power such existing technologies as magnetic resonance imaging and Maglev trains, among others. They hold great potential for emerging applications in electronic devices, transportation, and power transmission, generation and storage.

Carefully layered superconducting materials are increasingly important in highly sophisticated applications. For example, a superconducting quantum interference device, or SQUID, used to measure subtle magnetic fields in magnetoencephalography scans of the brain, is based on a three-layer material.

However, one challenge in the quest to understand and leverage superconductivity is developing materials that work at room temperature. Currently, even unconventional high-temperature superconductors operate below -369 degrees Fahrenheit.

An unconventional high-temperature superconductor, the researchers' iron-based "pnictide" material is promising in part because its effective operating temperature is higher than that of conventional superconducting materials such as niobium, lead or mercury.

The research team engineered and measured the properties of superlattices of pnictide superconductors. A superlattice is the complex, regularly repeating geometric arrangement of atoms — its crystal structure — in layers of two or more materials. Pnictide superconductors include compounds made from any of five elements in the nitrogen family of the periodic table.

The researchers' new material is composed of 24 layers that alternate between the pnictide superconductor and a layer of the oxide strontium titanate. Creating such systems is difficult, especially when the arrangement of atoms, and chemical compatibility, of each material is very different.

Yet, layer after layer, the researchers maintained an atomically sharp interface — the region where materials meet. Each atom in each layer is precisely placed, spaced and arranged in a regularly repeating crystal structure.

The new material also has improved current-carrying capabilities. As they grew the superlattice, the researchers also added a tiny bit of oxygen to intentionally insert defects every few nanometers in the material. These defects act as pinning centers to immobilize tiny magnetic vortices that, as they grow in strength in large magnetic fields, can limit current flow through the superconductor. "If the vortices move around freely, the energy dissipates, and the superconductor is no longer lossless," says Eom. "We have engineered both vertical and planar pinning centers, because vortices created by magnetic fields can be in many different orientations."

Eom sees possibilities for researchers to expand upon his team's success in engineering man-made superconducting structures. "There's a need to engineer superlattices for understanding fundamental superconductivity, for potential use in high-field and electronic devices, and to achieve extraordinary properties in the system," says Eom. "And, there is indication that interfaces can be a new area of discovery in high-temperature superconductors. This material offers those possibilities."

Funding from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Basic Energy Sciences, National Science Foundation, and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research supported the researchers' work. Eom's collaborators include Eric Hellstrom's and David Larbalestier's group at Florida State University; and Xiaoqing Pan's group at the University of Michigan.

Renee Meiller, 608-262-2481, meiller@engr.wisc.edu

Chang-Beom Eom | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wisc.edu

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Serendipity uncovers borophene's potential
23.02.2017 | Northwestern University

nachricht Switched-on DNA
20.02.2017 | Arizona State University

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

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”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

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...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>