Nav: Home

Manipulating atoms to make better superconductors

March 03, 2020

Scientists have been interested in superconductors - materials that transmit electricity without losing energy - for a long time because of their potential for advancing sustainable energy production. However, major advances have been limited because most materials that conduct electricity have to be very cold, anywhere from -425 to -171 degrees Fahrenheit, before they become superconductors.

A new study by University of Illinois at Chicago researchers published in the journal Nature Communications shows that it is possible to manipulate individual atoms so that they begin working in a collective pattern that has the potential to become superconducting at higher temperatures.

"This successful proof of concept opens unprecedented opportunities to engineer new smart materials, and ultimately, a room-temperature superconductor," said Dirk Morr, corresponding author and UIC professor of physics in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Morr and his colleagues, including Stanford University's Hari Manoharan, used a technique known as atomic manipulation, to place single cobalt atoms on a metallic copper surface in a perfectly ordered hexagonal pattern, called a Kondo droplet.

"We had theoretically predicted that for certain distances between the cobalt atoms, this nanoscopic system should start to exhibit collective behavior, while for other distances, it should not," Morr said.

The predictions were confirmed by experiments that showed that collective behavior appears in Kondo droplets containing as little as 37 cobalt atoms.

"This is an important step forward, as the creation of collective behavior is the fundamental building block from which superconductivity emerges. It allows us to move one step closer to developing the theory that describes the process of how materials could become superconducting at room temperature," Morr said. "This work is an example of thinking outside of the box and using principles from other research fields to promote innovation. We hope this discovery will lead to new superconductors and improve sustainable energy systems."
-end-
Jeremy Figgins from UIC and Laila Mattos, Warren Mar and Yi-Ting Chen from Stanford are co-authors on the paper.

This work was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DE-FG02-05ER46225 and DE-AC02-76SF00515).

University of Illinois at Chicago

Related Superconductors Articles:

Controlling superconductors with light
IBS scientists has reported a conceptually new method to study the properties of superconductors using optical tools.
Superconductors with 'zeitgeist' -- When materials differentiate between past and future
Physicists at TU Dresden have discovered spontaneous static magnetic fields with broken time-reversal symmetry in a class of iron-based superconductors.
Hydrogen blamed for interfering with nickelate superconductors synthesis
Prof. ZHONG Zhicheng's team at the Ningbo Institute of Materials Technology and Engineering has investigated the electronic structure of the recently discovered nickelate superconductors NdNiO2. They successfully explained the experimental difficulties in synthesizing superconducting nickelates, in cooperation with Prof.
A closer look at superconductors
From sustainable energy to quantum computers: high-temperature superconductors have the potential to revolutionize today's technologies.
Semiconductors can behave like metals and even like superconductors
The crystal structure at the surface of semiconductor materials can make them behave like metals and even like superconductors, a joint Swansea/Rostock research team has shown.
Manipulating atoms to make better superconductors
A new study by University of Illinois at Chicago researchers published in the journal Nature Communications shows that it is possible to manipulate individual atoms so that they begin working in a collective pattern that has the potential to become superconducting at higher temperatures.
Study probes relationship between strange metals and high-temperature superconductors
SLAC theorists have observed strange metallicity in a well-known model for simulating the behavior of materials with strongly correlated electrons, which join forces to produce unexpected phenomena rather than acting independently.
Uncovering a new aspect of charge density modulations in high temperature superconductors
Researchers from Chalmers University of Technology and Politecnico di Milano have identified a crucial new aspect of charge density modulations in cuprate high critical temperature superconductors.
Charge fluctuations, a new property in superconductors
An experiment conducted jointly at the ESRF European Synchrotron Radiation Facility by the Politecnico di Milano, National Research Council, the Università La Sapienza di Roma and the Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg has revealed a new property of cuprates, so-called high critical temperature superconductors.
Physicists make graphene discovery that could help develop superconductors
When two mesh screens are overlaid, beautiful patterns appear when one screen is offset.
More Superconductors News and Superconductors Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Our Relationship With Water
We need water to live. But with rising seas and so many lacking clean water – water is in crisis and so are we. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around restoring our relationship with water. Guests on the show include legal scholar Kelsey Leonard, artist LaToya Ruby Frazier, and community organizer Colette Pichon Battle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#568 Poker Face Psychology
Anyone who's seen pop culture depictions of poker might think statistics and math is the only way to get ahead. But no, there's psychology too. Author Maria Konnikova took her Ph.D. in psychology to the poker table, and turned out to be good. So good, she went pro in poker, and learned all about her own biases on the way. We're talking about her new book "The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win".
Now Playing: Radiolab

Uncounted
First things first: our very own Latif Nasser has an exciting new show on Netflix. He talks to Jad about the hidden forces of the world that connect us all. Then, with an eye on the upcoming election, we take a look back: at two pieces from More Perfect Season 3 about Constitutional amendments that determine who gets to vote. Former Radiolab producer Julia Longoria takes us to Washington, D.C. The capital is at the heart of our democracy, but it's not a state, and it wasn't until the 23rd Amendment that its people got the right to vote for president. But that still left DC without full representation in Congress; D.C. sends a "non-voting delegate" to the House. Julia profiles that delegate, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, and her unique approach to fighting for power in a virtually powerless role. Second, Radiolab producer Sarah Qari looks at a current fight to lower the US voting age to 16 that harkens back to the fight for the 26th Amendment in the 1960s. Eighteen-year-olds at the time argued that if they were old enough to be drafted to fight in the War, they were old enough to have a voice in our democracy. But what about today, when even younger Americans are finding themselves at the center of national political debates? Does it mean we should lower the voting age even further? This episode was reported and produced by Julia Longoria and Sarah Qari. Check out Latif Nasser's new Netflix show Connected here. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.