Physicists induce high-temperature superconductivity in semiconductor with Scotch tape

Sep 11, 2012
University of Toronto physics professor Ken Burch with experimental apparatus and tape. Credit: Diana Tyszko, Faculty of Arts & Science, University of Toronto

An international team led by University of Toronto physicists has developed a simple new technique using Scotch poster tape that has enabled them to induce high-temperature superconductivity in a semiconductor for the first time. The method paves the way for novel new devices that could be used in quantum computing and to improve energy efficiency.

"Who would have thought simply sticking things together can generate entirely new effects?" said team leader and U of T physicist Ken Burch. High-temperature superconductors are materials that without heating up and losing energy at liquid nitrogen temperatures. They are currently in use for transmitting electricity with low loss and as the building blocks of the next generation of devices (quantum computers).

However, only certain compounds of iron, copper and oxygen – or cuprates – reveal high-temperature superconducting properties. Cuprates were believed to be impossible to incorporate with semi-conductors, and so their real-world use has been severely limited as has the exploration of new effects they may generate. For example, observing the phenomenon of the proximity effect – wherein the superconductivity in one material generates superconductivity in an otherwise normal semi-conductor – has been difficult because the fundamental quantum mechanics require the materials to be in nearly perfect contact.

That's where the poster tape comes in. "Typically, junctions between semi-conductors and superconductors were made by complex material growth procedures and fabricating devices with features smaller than a ," explains Burch. "However the cuprates have a completely different structure and complex chemical make-up that simply can't be incorporated with a normal semiconductor."

So instead, the team used Scotch poster tape and glass slides to place high-temperature superconductors in proximity with a special type of semi-conductor known as a topological . Topological insulators have captured world-wide attention from scientists because they behave like semi-conductors in the bulk, but are very metallic at the surface. The result was induced superconductivity in these novel semi-conductors: a physics first.

Explore further: Puzzling new behaviour observed in high-temperature superconductors

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User comments : 18

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drumndenver
2 / 5 (4) Sep 11, 2012
They've been doing this at Berkeley Lab for years. One of my old instructors wrote his senior thesis about the technique for his degree at Stanford.
BigPink
2.5 / 5 (2) Sep 11, 2012
Well this sounds pretty exciting.

@ drumndenver — 
They've been doing this at Berkeley Lab for years...


Curious to hear that you've seen this done before. Are you aware of any subsequent boondoggles that would have kept this delayed from practical application or device production? Strange to think it's been around and not been leveraged into "news" before now.
rfw
1 / 5 (1) Sep 11, 2012
That's NOT FAIR!!! And furthermore it constitutes proof that God did indeed invent dice...
dan42day
5 / 5 (6) Sep 11, 2012
Scotch Tape has also been used to harvest graphene, and produce x-rays. It is truly remarkable stuff.
Styyxx
not rated yet Sep 11, 2012
So what temperature constitutes high temperature? And when are they expecting publication? There is another article that references dx.doi.org for a future paper.
Teemu
5 / 5 (1) Sep 11, 2012
This is the article, just published yesterday

http://www.nature...042.html

They observe proximity-induced superconductivity in Bi2Se3 and Bi2Te3 persisting up to at least 80 K.
Tomator
not rated yet Sep 12, 2012
The tape keeps our civilization together for years. This is just one another example.
johanfprins
1 / 5 (3) Sep 12, 2012
So! Explain this in terms of pair-formation! It is not possible.

If only the mainstream knuckleheads in charge of SC research would for once listen, they will see that SC is caused by quantum-hopping of localised Mott-type states. They will then not be so surprised about this result.

But as long as they believe that "pairing" MUST be responsible for SC, we will delay the time when SC devices at room temperature are routinely available. The latter has already been possible for the past 10 years!

Must we first wait until the Scalapinos, Josephsons, etc. all die out. At least Pippard has already departed! A good omen for the future of room temperature superconduction. But how long must we wait until the other bottlenecks follow him?
Minich
not rated yet Sep 12, 2012
As a matter of fact the article is of the type as in our good russian tales:
Ivan, go somewhere, i don't know where, find something, i don't know which thing...

Poor scientists, ghost wanders over the Europe, ghost of communism.... excuse, ghost of room temperature :)
ValeriaT
not rated yet Sep 12, 2012
This experiment is rather easy to understand. The topological insulator is soaked with electron fluid in similar way like the hydrophobic sponge soaked with water. The electrons are expelled from spaces between atoms to the surface, where they're forming conductive surface layer rich of electrons. When such layer is attached to superconductor with Scotch tape, it increases the charge density around hole stripes with conductive electrons: the repulsive forces of excessive electrons overlap and compensate mutually and as the result the conductive electrons are moving freely across superconductor without jumps and therefore without ohmic loss.
ValeriaT
not rated yet Sep 13, 2012
Can Doping Graphite Trigger Room Temperature Superconductivity? Evidence For Granular High-Temperature Superconductivity in Water-Treated Graphite Powder
Osiris1
3 / 5 (2) Sep 15, 2012
I fixed my son's bed with duck tape, and he weighs over three hundred pounds and is six foot five. Just goes to show.
Minich
1 / 5 (1) Sep 16, 2012
http://arxiv.org/abs/1209.1938 Evidence For Granular High-Temperature Superconductivity in Water-Treated Graphite Powder

http://onlinelibr...abstract
Minich
1 / 5 (1) Sep 16, 2012
The existence of room-temperature superconductivity (RTS)
was claimed in 1974 through the observation of Josephson
tunneling behavior of the electric current in response to a
magnetic fi eld applied to aluminum-carbon-aluminum sandwiches.
[ 1 ] In that work, the carbon layer consisted of small,
strongly distorted graphite crystallites. Magnetization measurements
conducted twenty six years later also provided evidence
for the existence of RTS in parts of oriented graphite samples. [ 2 ]
Similar claims were subsequently published for, for example,
an n-type diamond surface [ 3 ] as well as for palladium hydride. [ 4 ]
None of those reported results, however, was later independently
verifi ed, such that the existence of RTS remains an apparently
unreachable dream in science. The possibility to have
high-temperature superconductivity in graphite, [ 5 ] at its interfaces,
[ 6 ] as well as in disordered carbon [ 7 ] has been the subject
of only a few experimental studies but of a large n
Minich
2 / 5 (1) Sep 16, 2012
[ 1 ] K. Antonowicz , Nature 1974 , 247 , 358 – 360 . [ 2 ] Y. Kopelevich , P. Esquinazi , J. H. S. Torres , S. Moehlecke , J. Low Temp. Phys. 2000 , 119 , 691 – 702 . [ 3 ] J. F. Prins , Semicond. Sci. Technol. 2003 , 18 , S131 – S140 . [ 4 ] P. Tripodi , D. Di Gioacchino , R. Borelli , J. D. Vinko , Physica C: Superconductivity 2003 , 388–389 , 571 – 572 . [ 5 ] Y. Kopelevich , P. Esquinazi , J. Low Temp. Phys. 2007 , 146 , 629 – 639 . [ 6 ] a) J. Barzola-Quiquia , A. Ballestar , S. Dusari , P. Esquinazi , Experimental Study of the Intrinsic and Extrinsic Transport Properties of Graphite and Multigraphene Samples , in Graphene (Ed: J. R. Gong ), Intech, Open Access Publisher 2011 , Chap. 8; b) A. Ballestar , J. Barzola-Quiquia , P. Esquinaz i, arXiv:1206.2463. [ 7 ] I. Felner , Y. Kopelevich , Phys. Rev. B 2009 , 79 , 233409 .
johanfprins
1 / 5 (1) Sep 17, 2012
[ 3 ] J. F. Prins , Semicond. Sci. Technol. 2003 , 18 , S131 – S140 .


All my experimental results have been independently verified by Prof. Terry Doyle; but he does not want to write it up. It seems he wants to rather sit on the fence.

Even though the evidence is overwhelming that it is SC at room temperature, he is not willing to state it: Most probably too scared that he will also be classifued as a "crackpot".

All the other explanations that he tried are obviously so really "crackpot" that he is wise enough not to claim them either.

So rather do nothing that might turn out to be detrimental to his "reputation".
Minich
not rated yet Sep 20, 2012
Why only superconductors?

Room temperature neutron superfluidity is also interesting, and pseudogap in neutron fluids :)

Especially for nuclear and neutron power stations and for nuclear and neutron bombs. [a=http:/love.minich.ru] Теория сверхпроводимости [/a]
Minich
not rated yet Sep 20, 2012
[a http://love.minich.ru] Теория сверхпроводиď��Ä�ости [/a]