Creating new states of matter – Researchers invent two new types of superconductivity

Researchers have successfully created new types of superconductors by arranging atoms one by one, which could lead to the development of innovative materials and advances in quantum computing. The study points to a promising approach to overcoming the limitations of naturally occurring materials, paving the way for new states of matter in future electronics and computing technologies.

The electronics of the future depends on the discovery of unique materials. However, sometimes the topology of naturally occurring atoms makes it difficult to create new physical effects. To address this problem, scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded in designing a superconductor corn Simultaneously, creating new states of matter.

What will the computer of the future look like? How will it work? The search for answers to these questions is a major driver of basic physics research. There are many possible scenarios, ranging from the further development of classical electronics to neural computing and quantum computers.

The common element in all these approaches is that they rely on new physical effects, some of which have so far only been predicted theoretically. Researchers are making great efforts and using state-of-the-art equipment in their search for new quantum materials that would enable them to create such effects. But what if there are no suitable naturally occurring materials?

A new approach to superconductivity

In a recent study published in Nature physics, The research group of Professor Titus Neubert from ZH University, working closely with physicists at the Max Planck Institute for Fine Structure Physics in Halle (Germany), has provided a possible solution. The researchers made the required materials themselves – one atom at a time.

They are focusing on new types of superconductors, which are particularly interesting because they offer no electrical resistance at low temperatures. Sometimes referred to as “perfect binary magnets,” superconductors are used in many quantum computers because of their unusual interactions with magnetic fields. Theoretical physicists have spent years investigating and predicting different superconducting states. “However, only a few of them have so far been conclusively proven in materials,” says Professor Neubert.

Two new types of superconductivity

In their exciting collaboration, the researchers at ZH University theoretically predicted how atoms would be arranged to create a new superconducting phase, and the team in Germany then conducted experiments to implement the relevant topology. Using a scanning tunneling microscope, they moved the atoms and placed them in the right place with atomic precision.

The same method was also used to measure the magnetic and superconducting properties of the system. By depositing chromium atoms on the surface of the superconducting niobium, the researchers were able to create two new types of superconductivity. Similar methods have previously been used to manipulate metal atoms and molecules, but until now it has never been possible to make 2D superconductors using this approach.

The results not only confirm physicists’ theoretical predictions, but also give them reason to speculate about what other new states of matter could be created this way, and how they might be used in quantum computers in the future.

Reference: “2D Chiba lattices as a potential platform for crystalline topological superconductivity” by Martina O. Soldini, Felix Koster, Glenn Wagner, Souvik Das, Amal Darawsheh, Ronnie Thomali, Samir Lounis, Stuart S. B. Parkin, Paolo Ceci and Titus Neubert, July 10, 2023, Nature physics.
doi: 10.1038/s41567-023-02104-5

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