Nanotechnology

Researchers achieved interdimensional superconductivity

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July 19, 2023

(Nanowerk News) In the ordinary materials we encounter every day—and even in the most advanced chips in computers—electrons move in three dimensions (3D). However, scientists can force electrons to move in two dimensions (2D) by creating ultra-thin materials such as graphene.

In this work, published in PNAS (“Two-dimensional signatures of emerging superconductivity in three-dimensional host superconductors”), however, the researchers found that by adding superconductivity to the 3D electrons in the bulk material, the superconducting electrons spontaneously collapse into 2D. They do so without any physical alteration or creation of 3D materials. When given superconducting powers, 3D electrons choose for themselves to live in a 2D world. a pool of 2D superconducting behavior that arises from unconventional 3D superconductors The scientists observed a pool of 2D superconducting behavior that emerged from unconventional 3D superconductors. The study suggests that this may be how 3D superconductors rearrange themselves before shifting to an isolated state. (Image: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

This research uncovers a new phenomenon of “interdimensional superconductivity”. Using a sophisticated microscope, the researchers directly imaged the 3D state of the superconductor as it approached the isolating phase. This allowed them to discover the spontaneous appearance of 2D superconducting “waterbodies.”

This 2D “pool” of electrons that forms inside a 3D superconductor could be a way for some superconductors to rearrange themselves before undergoing a sudden phase transition to an isolated state.

This is what researchers call “emerging” phenomena, in which complex systems exhibit behavior that arises spontaneously. This might make it easier to create 2D materials for electronics and other applications.

This work details the signature of a novel phenomenon in which a hidden “interdimensional” order emerges from a bulk 3D superconductor tuned to approximate a phase transition to an insulator. The team included researchers from the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Stanford University, Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María in Chile, and Universidad de Los Andes in Colombia.

Previous electrical transport measurements found that the superconducting-insulator transition of BaPb compounds1−xTwoXHI3 demonstrating critical scaling behavior but unexplained parameters consistent with only two dimensions. In the work described here, scientists directly imaged the 3D superconducting state as it approaches the isolating phase and found that the 2D granular superconducting phase signature spontaneously appears at the transition.

This study used cryogenic scanning tunneling microscopy and spectroscopic measurements. In addition, the properties of these phases closely match the “emergent electronic detailing” theory specific to two-dimensional materials.

This finding posits that the 3D superconductor electronically rearranges itself into a granular 2D superconductor before finally turning into an insulator.



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