Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A step nearer to understanding superconductivity

08.06.2007
Transporting energy without any loss, travelling in magnetically levitated trains, carrying out medical imaging (MRI) with small-scale equipment: all these things could come true if we had superconducting materials that worked at room temperature.

Today, researchers at CNRS have taken another step forward on the road leading to this ultimate goal. They have revealed the metallic nature of a class of so-called critical high-temperature superconducting materials. This result, which was published in the 31 May 2007 issue of the journal Nature, has been eagerly awaited for 20 years. It paves the way to an understanding of this phenomenon and makes it possible to contemplate its complete theoretical description.

Superconductivity is a state of matter characterized by zero electrical resistance and impermeability to a magnetic field. For instance, it is already used in medical imaging (MRI devices), and could find spectacular applications in the transport and storage of electrical energy without loss, the development of transport systems based on magnetic levitation, wireless communication and even quantum computers. However, for now, such applications are limited by the fact that superconductivity only occurs at very low temperatures. In fact, it was only once a way of liquefying helium had been developed, which requires a temperature of 4.2 kelvins (-269 °C), that superconductivity was discovered, in 1911 (a discovery for which the Nobel Prize was awarded two years later.)

Since the end of the 1980s (Nobel Prize in 1987), researchers have managed to obtain ‘high temperature’ superconducting materials: some of these compounds can be made superconducting simply by using liquid nitrogen (77 K, or -196 °C). The record critical temperature (the phase transition temperature below which superconductivity occurs) is today 138 K (-135 °C). This new class of superconductors, which are easier and cheaper to use, has given fresh impetus to the race to find ever higher critical temperatures, with the ultimate goal of obtaining materials which are superconducting at room temperature. However, until now, researchers have been held back by some fundamental questions. What causes superconductivity at microscopic scales" How do electrons behave in such materials"

Researchers at the National Laboratory for Pulsed Magnetic Fields2, working together with researchers at Sherbrooke, have observed ‘quantum oscillations’, thanks to their experience in working with intense magnetic fields. They subjected their samples to a magnetic field of as much as 62 teslas (a million times stronger than the Earth’s magnetic field), at very low temperatures (between 1.5 K and 4.2 K). The magnetic field destroys the superconducting state, and the sample, now in a normal state, shows an oscillation of its electrical resistance as a function of the magnetic field. Such an oscillation is characteristic of metals: it means that, in the samples that were studied, the electrons behaved in the same way as in ordinary metals.

The researchers will be able to use this discovery, which has been eagerly awaited for 20 years, to improve their understanding of critical high-temperature superconductivity, which until now had resisted all attempts at modeling it. The discovery has been effective in sorting out the many theories which had emerged to explain the phenomenon, and provides a firm foundation on which to build a new theory. It will make it possible to design more efficient materials, with critical temperatures closer to room temperature.

Aimee Bartosik | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cnrs.fr

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor
24.04.2017 | DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology)

nachricht New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers
21.04.2017 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor

24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Nanoimprinted hyperlens array: Paving the way for practical super-resolution imaging

24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>