That didn't happen. Now, a University of Florida scientist is among a team of physicists to help explain why.
In a paper set to appear Sunday in the online edition of Nature Physics, Peter Hirschfeld, a UF professor of physics, and five other researchers for the first time describe precisely how the atomic-level structural elements of high-temperature ceramic superconductors serve to impede electrical current. Their explanation for how "grain boundaries" separating rows of atoms within superconductors impede current is the first to fit a phenomenon that has helped keep the superconductors from reaching their vaunted potential – and puzzled experimental physicists for more than two decades.
"Nobody understood why it was such a strong effect, or why the current was so limited by these grain boundaries," Hirschfeld said. "And that is what we have explained in this paper."
High-temperature superconducting ceramic wires are composed of rows of atoms arranged slightly askew to each other, as though one piece of graph paper had been melded atop another with the horizontal and vertical lines at less-than-perfect alignment. Lumps of electrical charge build up at the angles where the lines meet, acting like dams to interrupt the flow of electricity.
Hirschfeld and his colleagues' contribution was to conceive and construct a mathematical model that fit these observations "very nicely," he said. "We abstracted a very theoretical model of a single boundary" that can be applied to all such boundaries, he said.
Unfortunately the model does not suggest a way to break down the barriers, although Hirschfeld said it will give researchers a better tool to interpret results of past and future experiments. This gives the team hope that their model could, over time, lead to high-temperature superconductors with less restrictive grain boundaries. That would be a step toward helping the superconductors, which have found limited applications in areas such as powerful research magnets, reach their heralded potential.
Siegfried Graser, the first author of the Nature Physics paper and a faculty member at the University of Augsburg in Germany, did most of his research while he was a postdoctoral associate in Hirschfeld's group at UF. The other authors are at the University of Augsburg and the University of Copenhagen. The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Peter Hirschfeld | EurekAlert!
Unconventional superconductor may be used to create quantum computers of the future
19.02.2018 | Chalmers University of Technology
Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm
16.02.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
19.02.2018 | Information Technology
19.02.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
19.02.2018 | Life Sciences