Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Controlling superconducting regions within an exotic metal

11.10.2019

Superconductivity has fascinated scientists for many years since it offers the potential to revolutionize current technologies. Materials only become superconductors - meaning that electrons can travel in them with no resistance - at very low temperatures. These days, this unique zero resistance superconductivity is commonly found in a number of technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Future technologies, however, will harness the total synchrony of electronic behavior in superconductors - a property called the phase. There is currently a race to build the world's first quantum computer, which will use these phases to perform calculations.


Scientists can define and tune patterns of superconductivity

Credit: EPFL

Conventional superconductors are very robust and hard to influence, and the challenge is to find new materials in which the superconducting state can be easily manipulated in a device.

EPFL's Laboratory of Quantum Materials (QMAT), headed by Philip Moll, has been working on a specific group of unconventional superconductors known as heavy fermion materials.

The QMAT scientists, as part of a broad international collaboration between EPFL, the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids, the Los Alamos National Laboratory and Cornell University, made a surprising discovery about one of these materials, CeIrIn5.

CeIrIn5 is a metal that superconducts at a very low temperature, only 0.4°C above absolute zero (around -273°C). The QMAT scientists, together with Katja C. Nowack from Cornell University, have now shown that this material could be produced with superconducting regions coexisting alongside regions in a normal metallic state.

Better still, they produced a model that allows researchers to design complex conducting patterns and, by varying the temperature, to distribute them within the material in a highly controlled way. Their research has just been published in Science.

To achieve this feat, the scientists sliced very thin layers of CeIrIn5 - only around a thousandth of a millimeter thick - that they joined to a sapphire substrate. When cooled, the material contracts significantly whereas the sapphire contracts very little. The resulting interaction puts stress on the material, as if it were being pulled in all directions, thus slightly distorting the atomic bonds in the slice.

As the superconductivity in CeIrIn5 is unusually sensitive to the material's exact atomic configuration, engineering a distortion pattern is all it takes to achieve a complex pattern of superconductivity. This new approach allows researchers to "draw" superconducting circuitry on a single crystal bar, a step that paves the way for new quantum technologies.

Caption; the image illustrates the temperature evolution of the spatially modulated superconducting state

This discovery represents a major step forward in controlling superconductivity in heavy fermion materials. But that's not the end of the story. Following on from this project, a post-doc researcher has just begun exploring possible technological applications.

"We could, for example, change the regions of superconductivity by modifying the material's distortion using a microactuator," says Moll. "The ability to isolate and connect superconducting regions on a chip could also create a kind of switch for future quantum technologies, a little like the transistors used in today's computing."

Media Contact

Philip Moll
philip.moll@epfl.ch
41-216-932-494

 @EPFL_en

http://www.epfl.ch/index.en.html 

Philip Moll | EurekAlert!

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Patented concept from Halle: novel, high-performance diodes and transistors
08.10.2019 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

nachricht Thin to win
08.10.2019 | University of Utah

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Controlling superconducting regions within an exotic metal

Superconductivity has fascinated scientists for many years since it offers the potential to revolutionize current technologies. Materials only become superconductors - meaning that electrons can travel in them with no resistance - at very low temperatures. These days, this unique zero resistance superconductivity is commonly found in a number of technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Future technologies, however, will harness the total synchrony of electronic behavior in superconductors - a property called the phase. There is currently a...

Im Focus: How Do the Strongest Magnets in the Universe Form?

How do some neutron stars become the strongest magnets in the Universe? A German-British team of astrophysicists has found a possible answer to the question of how these so-called magnetars form. Researchers from Heidelberg, Garching, and Oxford used large computer simulations to demonstrate how the merger of two stars creates strong magnetic fields. If such stars explode in supernovae, magnetars could result.

How Do the Strongest Magnets in the Universe Form?

Im Focus: Liquifying a rocky exoplanet

A hot, molten Earth would be around 5% larger than its solid counterpart. This is the result of a study led by researchers at the University of Bern. The difference between molten and solid rocky planets is important for the search of Earth-like worlds beyond our Solar System and the understanding of Earth itself.

Rocky exoplanets that are around Earth-size are comparatively small, which makes them incredibly difficult to detect and characterise using telescopes. What...

Im Focus: Axion particle spotted in solid-state crystal

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids in Dresden, Princeton University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences have spotted a famously elusive particle: The axion – first predicted 42 years ago as an elementary particle in extensions of the standard model of particle physics.

The team found signatures of axion particles composed of Weyl-type electrons (Weyl fermions) in the correlated Weyl semimetal (TaSe₄)₂I. At room temperature,...

Im Focus: A cosmic pretzel

Twin baby stars grow amongst a twisting network of gas and dust

The two baby stars were found in the [BHB2007] 11 system - the youngest member of a small stellar cluster in the Barnard 59 dark nebula, which is part of the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Symposium on Functional Materials for Electrolysis, Fuel Cells and Metal-Air Batteries

02.10.2019 | Event News

NEXUS 2020: Relationships Between Architecture and Mathematics

02.10.2019 | Event News

Optical Technologies: International Symposium „Future Optics“ in Hannover

19.09.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Radiation detector with the lowest noise in the world boosts quantum work

11.10.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Controlling superconducting regions within an exotic metal

11.10.2019 | Information Technology

IVAM product market at the COMPAMED 2019: No digitalization in medical technology without microtechnologies

11.10.2019 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>