Thinnest superconducting metal created

Jun 08, 2009
This is a scanning tunneling microscope image of the 2-atom thick lead film. The inset is a zoomed view showing the atomic structure. Credit: Dr. Ken Shih, The University of Texas at Austin

A superconducting sheet of lead only two atoms thick, the thinnest superconducting metal layer ever created, has been developed by physicists at The University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Ken Shih and colleagues report the properties of their superconducting film in the June 5 issue of Science.

Superconductors are unique because they can maintain an electrical current indefinitely with no power source. They are used in MRI machines, particle accelerators, quantum interference devices and other applications.

The development of the thin superconducting sheets of lead lays the groundwork for future advancements in superconductor technologies.

"To be able to control this material—to shape it into new geometries—and explore what happens is very exciting," says Shih, the Jane and Roland Blumberg Professor in Physics. "My hope is that this superconductive surface will enable one to build devices and study new properties of superconductivity."

In , electrons move through the material together in pairs, called Cooper pairs.

One of the innovative properties of Shih's ultra-thin lead is that it confines the electrons to move in two dimensions, or one "quantum channel," like ballroom dancers gliding across the floor. Uniquely, the lead remains a good superconductor despite the constrained movement of the electrons through the metal.

Shih and his colleagues used advanced materials synthesis techniques to lay the two-atom thick sheet of lead atop a thin silicon surface. The lead sheets are highly uniform with no impurities.

"We can make this film, and it has perfect crystalline structure—more perfect than most made of other materials," Shih says.

Source: University of Texas at Austin (news : web)

Explore further: Universality of charge order in cuprate superconductors

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Tiny superconductors withstand stronger magnetic fields

Feb 04, 2005

Ultrathin superconducting wires can withstand stronger magnetic fields than larger wires made from the same material, researchers now report. This finding may be useful for technologies that employ superconducting ...

Scientists create superconducting thin films

Oct 08, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- 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 ...

Secrets behind high temperature superconductors revealed

Feb 22, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists from Queen Mary, University of London and the University of Fribourg (Switzerland) have found evidence that magnetism is involved in the mechanism behind high temperature superconductivity.

One Mystery of High-Tc Superconductivity Resolved

Nov 16, 2006

Research published online in the journal Science this week by Tonica Valla, a physicist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, appears to resolve one mystery in the 20-year study ...

Recommended for you

Finding faster-than-light particles by weighing them

13 hours ago

In a new paper accepted by the journal Astroparticle Physics, Robert Ehrlich, a recently retired physicist from George Mason University, claims that the neutrino is very likely a tachyon or faster-than-light par ...

Controlling core switching in Pac-man disks

Dec 24, 2014

Magnetic vortices in thin films can encode information in the perpendicular magnetization pointing up or down relative to the vortex core. These binary states could be useful for non-volatile data storage ...

World's most complex crystal simulated

Dec 24, 2014

The most complicated crystal structure ever produced in a computer simulation has been achieved by researchers at the University of Michigan. They say the findings help demonstrate how complexity can emerge ...

Atoms queue up for quantum computer networks

Dec 24, 2014

In order to develop future quantum computer networks, it is necessary to hold a known number of atoms and read them without them disappearing. To do this, researchers from the Niels Bohr Institute have developed ...

New video supports radiation dosimetry audits

Dec 23, 2014

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL), working with the National Radiotherapy Trials Quality Assurance Group, has produced a video guide to support physicists participating in radiation dosimetry audits.

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

jselin
5 / 5 (2) Jun 08, 2009
So what is the critical superconducting temperature? Bulk lead is superconducting below ~7K.
KBK
not rated yet Jun 09, 2009
I would ~VERY~ much appreciate if someone could direct me to a list of the known superconducting temperatures of the table of elements. Of course, only those that have been tested for that capacity.

OK. found some stuff on it. Nevermind....

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.