October 9, 2008

Scientists Develop New Superconducting Films

U.S. scientists have created ultra thin films that can be used to form superconductors.  The new advancement could lead to faster, more energy efficient electronics.

"What we have done is we have put together two materials, neither of which is a superconductor, and we found their interface -- where they touch -- is superconducting," said Ivan Bozovic, physicist for the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory.

"This superconducting layer is extremely thin. It is thinner than 1 nanometer, which is 1 billionth of a meter," added Bozovic.

"It opens vistas for further progress, including using these techniques to significantly enhance superconducting properties in other known or new superconductors."

Researchers also added that the films could be used at high temperatures for superconductors, making them easier to produce.

Superconductors are capable of having no resistance to the flow of electrical current, making them extremely useful and efficient in electronics.

The superconductors used in an MRI machine must be cooled with liquid helium to minus 452.47 degrees Fahrenheit, nearly absolute zero, but the new superconductor developed by U.S. scientists can work efficiently at 369.67 degrees Fahrenheit.

"The practicality of superconductivity depends in some sense on the refrigeration you use to cool it down," said Bozovic.

The new film can be cooled to 369.67 degrees Fahrenheit by using liquid nitrogen, which is far less expensive than liquid helium.

"It brings us one step closer to producing mass-scale superconducting electronics," he said.

Bozovic said the ultimate goal is to create superconductors that can be used at room temperature.  He believes further testing with the new superconducting film could create further breakthroughs.


Image Caption: Ivan Bozovic. Courtesy Brookhaven National Laboratory


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