Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Human-made material pushes the bounds of superconductivity

Date:
March 3, 2013
Source:
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Summary:
Scientists have artificially engineered a unique multilayer material that could lead to breakthroughs in both superconductivity research and in real-world applications.

A multi-university team of researchers has artificially engineered a unique multilayer material that could lead to breakthroughs in both superconductivity research and in real-world applications.

Related Articles


The researchers can tailor the material, which seamlessly alternates between metal and oxide layers, to achieve extraordinary superconducting properties -- in particular, the ability to transport much more electrical current than non-engineered materials.

The team includes experts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Florida State University and the University of Michigan. Led by Chang-Beom Eom, the Harvey D. Spangler Distinguished Professor of materials science and engineering and physics at UW-Madison, the group described its breakthrough March 3, 2013, in the advance online edition of the journal Nature Materials.

Superconductors, which presently operate only under extremely cold conditions, transport energy very efficiently. With the ability to transport large electrical currents and produce high magnetic fields, they power such existing technologies as magnetic resonance imaging and Maglev trains, among others. They hold great potential for emerging applications in electronic devices, transportation, and power transmission, generation and storage.

Carefully layered superconducting materials are increasingly important in highly sophisticated applications. For example, a superconducting quantum interference device, or SQUID, used to measure subtle magnetic fields in magnetoencephalography scans of the brain, is based on a three-layer material.

However, one challenge in the quest to understand and leverage superconductivity is developing materials that work at room temperature. Currently, even unconventional high-temperature superconductors operate below -369 degrees Fahrenheit.

An unconventional high-temperature superconductor, the researchers' iron-based "pnictide" material is promising in part because its effective operating temperature is higher than that of conventional superconducting materials such as niobium, lead or mercury.

The research team engineered and measured the properties of superlattices of pnictide superconductors. A superlattice is the complex, regularly repeating geometric arrangement of atoms -- its crystal structure -- in layers of two or more materials. Pnictide superconductors include compounds made from any of five elements in the nitrogen family of the periodic table.

The researchers' new material is composed of 24 layers that alternate between the pnictide superconductor and a layer of the oxide strontium titanate. Creating such systems is difficult, especially when the arrangement of atoms, and chemical compatibility, of each material is very different.

Yet, layer after layer, the researchers maintained an atomically sharp interface -- the region where materials meet. Each atom in each layer is precisely placed, spaced and arranged in a regularly repeating crystal structure.

The new material also has improved current-carrying capabilities. As they grew the superlattice, the researchers also added a tiny bit of oxygen to intentionally insert defects every few nanometers in the material. These defects act as pinning centers to immobilize tiny magnetic vortices that, as they grow in strength in large magnetic fields, can limit current flow through the superconductor. "If the vortices move around freely, the energy dissipates, and the superconductor is no longer lossless," says Eom. "We have engineered both vertical and planar pinning centers, because vortices created by magnetic fields can be in many different orientations."

Eom sees possibilities for researchers to expand upon his team's success in engineering human-made superconducting structures. "There's a need to engineer superlattices for understanding fundamental superconductivity, for potential use in high-field and electronic devices, and to achieve extraordinary properties in the system," says Eom. "And, there is indication that interfaces can be a new area of discovery in high-temperature superconductors. This material offers those possibilities."

Funding from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Basic Energy Sciences, National Science Foundation, and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research supported the researchers' work. Eom's collaborators include Eric Hellstrom's and David Larbalestier's group at Florida State University; and Xiaoqing Pan's group at the University of Michigan.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Wisconsin-Madison. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S. Lee, C. Tarantini, P. Gao, J. Jiang, J. D. Weiss, F. Kametani, C. M. Folkman, Y. Zhang, X. Q. Pan, E. E. Hellstrom, D. C. Larbalestier, C. B. Eom. Artificially engineered superlattices of pnictide superconductors. Nature Materials, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nmat3575

Cite This Page:

University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Human-made material pushes the bounds of superconductivity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130303154859.htm>.
University of Wisconsin-Madison. (2013, March 3). Human-made material pushes the bounds of superconductivity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130303154859.htm
University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Human-made material pushes the bounds of superconductivity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130303154859.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Restores Amputee Dexterity

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Restores Amputee Dexterity

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 29, 2014) A Swedish amputee who became the first person to ever receive a brain controlled prosthetic arm is able to manipulate and handle delicate objects with an unprecedented level of dexterity. The device is connected directly to his bone, nerves and muscles, giving him the ability to control it with his thoughts. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robots Get Funky on the Dance Floor

Robots Get Funky on the Dance Floor

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) Dancing, spinning and fighting robots are showing off their agility at "Robocomp" in Krakow. (Oct. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Saharan Solar Project to Power Europe

Saharan Solar Project to Power Europe

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 29, 2014) A solar energy project in the Tunisian Sahara aims to generate enough clean energy by 2018 to power two million European homes. Matt Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lowe's Testing Robot Sales Assistants in California Store

Lowe's Testing Robot Sales Assistants in California Store

Buzz60 (Oct. 29, 2014) Lowe’s is testing out what it’s describing as a robotic shopping assistant in one of its Orchard Supply Hardware Stores in California. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins