Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists engineer superconducting thin films

10.10.2008
1 step closer to fabrication of useful devices such as superconductive transistors

One major goal on the path toward making useful superconducting devices has been engineering materials that act as superconductors at the nanoscale — the realm of billionths of a meter. Such nanoscale superconductors would be useful in devices such as superconductive transistors and eventually in ultrafast, power-saving electronics.

In the October 9, 2008, issue of Nature, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory report that they have successfully produced two-layer thin films where neither layer is superconducting on its own, but which exhibit a nanometer-thick region of superconductivity at their interface. Furthermore, they demonstrate the ability to elevate the temperature of superconductivity at this interface to temperatures exceeding 50 kelvin (-370°F), a relatively high temperature deemed more practical for real-world devices.

"This work provides definitive proof of our ability to produce robust superconductivity at the interface of two layers confined within an extremely thin, 1-2-nanometer-thick layer near the physical boundary between the two materials," said physicist Ivan Bozovic, who leads the Brookhaven thin film research team. "It opens vistas for further progress, including using these techniques to significantly enhance superconducting properties in other known or new superconductors."

Bozovic foresees future research investigating different combinations of non-superconducting materials. "Further study of the temperature-enhancement mechanism might even tell us something about the big puzzle — the mechanism underlying high-temperature superconductivity, which remains one of the most important open problems in condensed matter physics," he said.

Bozovic's team had reported in 2002 the bizarre observation that the critical temperature — the temperature below which the sample superconducts — could be enhanced by as much as 25 percent in bilayers of two dissimilar copper-based materials. However, at that time, the scientists had no understanding of what caused this enhancement and in which part of the sample the superconductivity was located.

To investigate this further, they synthesized more than 200 single-phase, bilayer and trilayer films with insulating, metallic, and superconducting blocks in all possible combinations and of varying layer thickness. The films were grown in a unique atomic-layer-by-layer molecular beam epitaxy system designed and built by Bozovic and coworkers to enable the synthesis of atomically smooth films as well as multilayers with perfect interfaces. "The greatest technical challenge was to prove convincingly that the superconducting effect does not come from simple mixing of the two materials and formation of a third, chemically and physically distinct layer between the two constituent layers," Bozovic said. Collaborators at Cornell University ruled out this possibility using atomic-resolution transmission electron microscopy to identify the samples' constituent chemical elements, proving that the layers indeed remained distinct.

"It is too early to tell what applications this research might yield," Bozovic said, "but already at this stage we can speculate that this brings us one big step closer to fabrication of useful three-terminal superconducting devices, such as a superconductive field-effect transistor." In such a device, one would be able to switch the transistor from the superconducting to the resistive state by means of an external electric field, controlled by applying a voltage and using the third (gate) electrode. Circuits built from such devices would be much faster and use less power than the current ones based on semiconductors.

"No matter what the applications, this work is a nice demonstration of our ability to engineer and control materials at sub-nanometer scale, with designed and enhanced functionality," Bozovic said.

Karen McNulty Walsh | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.bnl.gov/newsroom

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Multiregional brain on a chip
16.01.2017 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

nachricht Researchers develop environmentally friendly soy air filter
16.01.2017 | Washington State University

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

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...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

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...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

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...

Im Focus: Newly proposed reference datasets improve weather satellite data quality

UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration

"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...

Im Focus: Repairing defects in fiber-reinforced plastics more efficiently

Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.

Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Multiregional brain on a chip

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New technology enables 5-D imaging in live animals, humans

16.01.2017 | Information Technology

Researchers develop environmentally friendly soy air filter

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>