UPTON, NY - One major goal on the path toward making useful superconducting devices has been engineering materials that act as superconductors at the nanoscale the realm of billionths of a meter. Such nanoscale superconductors would be useful in devices such as superconductive transistors and eventually in ultrafast, power-saving electronics.
In the October 9, 2008, issue of Nature, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory report that they have successfully produced two-layer thin films where neither layer is superconducting on its own, but which exhibit a nanometer-thick region of superconductivity at their interface. Furthermore, they demonstrate the ability to elevate the temperature of superconductivity at this interface to temperatures exceeding 50 kelvin (-370F), a relatively high temperature deemed more practical for real-world devices.
"This work provides definitive proof of our ability to produce robust superconductivity at the interface of two layers confined within an extremely thin, 1-2-nanometer-thick layer near the physical boundary between the two materials," said physicist Ivan Bozovic, who leads the Brookhaven thin film research team. "It opens vistas for further progress, including using these techniques to significantly enhance superconducting properties in other known or new superconductors."
Bozovic foresees future research investigating different combinations of non-superconducting materials. "Further study of the temperature-enhancement mechanism might even tell us something about the big puzzle the mechanism underlying high-temperature superconductivity, which remains one of the most important open problems in condensed matter physics," he said.
Bozovic's team had reported in 2002 the bizarre observation that the critical temperature the temperature below which the sample superconducts could be enhanced by as much as 25 percent in bilayers of two dis
|Contact: Karen McNulty Walsh|
DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory