Physicists are one step closer to developing the world’s first room-temperature superconductor thanks to a new theory from the University of Waterloo, Harvard and Perimeter Institute.
The theory explains the transition phase to superconductivity, or “pseudogap” phase, which is one of the last obstacles to developing the next generation of superconductors and one of the major unsolved problems of theoretical condensed matter physics.
Their work was published in this week’s issue of the prestigious journal Science.
Superconductivity is the phenomenon where electricity flows with no resistance and no energy loss. Most materials need to be cooled to ultra-low temperatures with liquid helium in order to achieve a superconductive state.
The team includes Professor Roger Melko, Professor David Hawthorn and doctoral student Lauren Hayward from Waterloo’s Physics and Astronomy Department, and Harvard Physics Professor Subir Sachev. Roger Melko also holds a Canada Research Chair in Computational Quantum Many-Body Physics.
Hawthorn showed Sachdev his latest experimental data on a superconducting material made of Copper and the elements Yttrium and Barium. The material, YBa2Cu3O6+x, had an unexplained temperature dependence. Sachdev had a theory but needed expert help with the complex set of calculations to prove it. That’s where Melko and Hayward stepped in and developed the computer code to solve Sachdev’s equations.
Melko and Sachdev already knew each other through Perimeter Institute, where Melko is an associate faculty member and Sachdev is a Distinguished Research Visiting Chair.
“The results all came together in a matter of weeks,” said Melko. “It really speaks to the synergy we have between Waterloo and Perimeter Institute.”
To understand why room-temperature superconductivity has remained so elusive, physicists have turned their sights to the phase that occurs just before superconductivity takes over: the mysterious “pseudogap” phase.
“Understanding the pseudogap is as important as understanding superconductivity itself,” said Melko.
The cuprate, YBa2Cu3O6+x, is one of the few materials known to be superconductive at higher temperatures, but scientists are so far unable to achieve superconductivity in this material above -179°C. This new study found that YBa2Cu3O6+x oscillates between two quantum states during the pseudogap, one of which involves charge-density wave fluctuations. These periodic fluctuations in the distribution of the electrical charges are what destabilize the superconducting state above the critical temperature.
Once the material is cooled below the critical temperature, the strength of these fluctuations falls and the superconductivity state takes over.
Superconducting magnets are currently used in MRI machines and complex particle accelerators, but the cost of cooling materials using Helium makes them very expensive. Materials that achieve superconductivity at a higher temperature could unlock the technology for new smart power grids and advanced power storage units.
The group plans to extend their work both theoretically and experimentally to understand more about the fundamental nature of cuprates.
In just half a century, the University of Waterloo, located at the heart of Canada's technology hub, has become one of Canada's leading comprehensive universities with 35,000 full- and part-time students in undergraduate and graduate programs. Waterloo, as home to the world's largest post-secondary co-operative education program, embraces its connections to the world and encourages enterprising partnerships in learning, research and discovery. In the next decade, the university is committed to building a better future for Canada and the world by championing innovation and collaboration to create solutions relevant to the needs of today and tomorrow. For more information about Waterloo, please visit www.uwaterloo.ca.
Attention broadcasters: Waterloo has facilities to provide broadcast quality audio and video feeds with a double-ender studio. Please contact us to book.
Nick Manning | EurekAlert!
Magnetic nano-imaging on a table top
20.04.2018 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
New record on squeezing light to one atom: Atomic Lego guides light below one nanometer
20.04.2018 | ICFO-The Institute of Photonic Sciences
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.
Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...
In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research
20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy