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:

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.
Experiments explore the mysteries of 'magic' angle superconductors
A team led by Princeton physicist Ali Yazdani conducted experiments to explore superconductivity in a groundbreaking new material known as magic-angle twisted graphene.
AI and high-performance computing extend evolution to superconductors
In a new study from the US Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, researchers used the power of artificial intelligence and high-performance supercomputers to introduce and assess the impact of different configurations of defects on the performance of a superconductor.
Superconductors: Resistance is futile
New experimental results change the way we think about high-temperature superconductors.
Abrikosov vortices help scientists explain inconsistencies in 'dirty' superconductors theory
International team of physicists explained anomalous low temperature behavior of 'dirty' superconductors.
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

Climate Mindset
In the past few months, human beings have come together to fight a global threat. This hour, TED speakers explore how our response can be the catalyst to fight another global crisis: climate change. Guests include political strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac, diplomat Christiana Figueres, climate justice activist Xiye Bastida, and writer, illustrator, and artist Oliver Jeffers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Speedy Beet
There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit. Big thanks to our Brooklyn Philharmonic musicians: Deborah Buck and Suzy Perelman on violin, Arash Amini on cello, and Ah Ling Neu on viola. And check out The First Four Notes, Matthew Guerrieri's book on Beethoven's Fifth. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.