The results also suggest that vibrations (called phonons), within the lattice structure of these materials, are essential to their superconductivity by binding electrons in pairs. The research is published in the February 26 - March 2 on-line edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Superconductors are substances that conduct electricity — the flow of electrons — without any resistance. Electrical resistance disappears in superconductors at specific, so-called, transition temperatures, Tc's. The early conventional superconductors had to be cooled to extremely low (below 20 K or –253ºC) temperatures for electricity to flow freely. In 1986 scientists discovered a class of high-temperature superconductors made of ceramic copper oxides that have much higher transition temperatures. But understanding how they work and thus how they can be manipulated has been surprisingly hard.
As Carnegie's Xiao-Jia Chen, lead author of the study explains: "High-temperature superconductors consist of copper and oxygen atoms in a layered structure. Scientists have been trying hard to determine the properties that affect their transition temperatures since 1987. In this study, we found that by substituting oxygen-16 with its heavier sibling oxygen-18, the transition temperature changes; such a substitution is known as the isotope effect. The different masses of the isotopes cause a change in lattice vibrations and hence the binding force that enables pairs of electrons to travel through the material without resistance. Even more exciting is our discovery that manipulating the compression of the crystalline lattice of the high-Tc material has a similar effect on the superconducting transition temperature. Our study revealed that pressure and the isotope effect have equivalent roles on the transition temperature in cuprate superconductors."
Superconducting materials can achieve their maximum transition temperatures at a specific amount of "doping," which is simply the addition of charged particles (negatively charged electrons or positively charged holes). Both the transition temperature and isotope effect critically depend on the doping level. For optimally doped materials, the higher the maximum transition temperature is, the smaller the isotope effect is.
Understanding this behavior is very challenging. The Carnegie / Hong Kong collaboration found that if phonons are at work, they would account both for the magnitude of the isotope effect, as a function of the doping level, and the variation among different types of cuprate superconductors. The study also revealed what might be happening to modify the electronic structures among various optimally doped materials to cause the variation of the superconducting properties. The suite of results presents a unified picture for the oxygen isotope effect in cuprates at ambient condition and under high pressure.
"Although we've known for some time that vibrations of the atoms, or phonons, propel electrons through conventional superconductors, they have just recently been suspected to be at work in high-temperature superconductors," commented coauthor Viktor Struzhkin. "This research suggests that lattice vibrations are important to the way the high-Tc materials function as well. We are very excited by the possibilities arising from these findings."
Xiao-Jia Chen | EurekAlert!
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21.09.2017 | Norwegian University of Science and Technology
At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
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Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
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