Nav: Home

Researchers snap-shot fastest observations of superconductivity yet

March 10, 2015

An international team of researchers has used infinitely short light pulses to observe ultrafast changes in the electron-level properties of superconductors, setting a new standard for temporal resolution in the field.

The scientists--from the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, the University of British Columbia (UBC) and other institutions--liken the new technique to the development of high-speed film capture in the early days of photography.

"The solution we devised is based on the use of ultrafast light pulses, lasting 10 femtoseconds or 10 million billionths of a second," says Claudio Giannetti of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italy, and an international visiting research scholar at the UBC Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, who coordinated the research.

A major hurdle in understanding superconducting properties is determining whether the electron interactions occurring inside the materials are direct and instantaneous, or mediated by some delayed interaction. The advanced techniques--much like the high-speed photography invented by Eadweard Muybridge more than 100 years ago to film galloping horses--helped the researchers 'slow down' and observe the process.

"It was an exciting challenge to merge completely different results and approaches, such as ultrafast laser optics, photoelectron spectroscopies, and first-principles theory," says professor Andrea Damascelli, director of UBC's Quantum Matter Institute (QMI) and senior fellow with the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research Quantum Materials Program. Damascelli led UBC's research component of the project.

The snap-shot observations, detailed this week in Nature Physics, support the hypothesis that electron interactions are delayed and mediated by their interaction with the spin and magnetic pull of other electrons. The process took only 10 femtoseconds--something that, up till now, material scientists had been unable to directly observe.

Adds Damascelli, "These international collaborations are vital to achieving this calibre of work, and the possibility of combining cutting-edge photoelectron spectroscopies with state-of-the-art ultrafast techniques will be an exciting new avenue in UBC's research portfolio as our capacities grow."
-end-
International Collaborators

The research also included researchers from Politecnico of Milan, SISSA in Trieste, and the Jo?ef Stefan Institute in Ljubljana, Slovenia. This is part of an ongoing collaboration between QMI and the ultrafast optics groups in Europe. Damascelli and Giannetti have been awarded a Peter Wall Institute International Scholarship aimed at reinforcing their collaboration and developing novel experimental ideas and dedicated infrastructure based at UBC.

About CIFAR

CIFAR creates knowledge that is transforming our world. Established in 1982, the Institute brings together interdisciplinary groups of extraordinary researchers from around the globe to address questions and challenges of importance to the world. Our networks help support the growth of research leaders and are catalysts for change in business, government and society. CIFAR is generously supported by the governments of Canada, British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, Canadian and international partners, as well as individuals, foundations and corporations. CIFAR's program in Quantum Materials invents and explores materials whose novel and unusual electronic properties, like superconductivity, could revolutionize technology.

Snapshots of the retarded interaction of charge carriers with ultrafast fluctuations in cuprates
Nature Physics - 09 March 2015
doi:10.1038/nphys3265

University of British Columbia

Related Research Articles:

More Research News and Research Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Erasing The Stigma
Many of us either cope with mental illness or know someone who does. But we still have a hard time talking about it. This hour, TED speakers explore ways to push past — and even erase — the stigma. Guests include musician and comedian Jordan Raskopoulos, neuroscientist and psychiatrist Thomas Insel, psychiatrist Dixon Chibanda, anxiety and depression researcher Olivia Remes, and entrepreneur Sangu Delle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...