Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors



Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Newly discovered 'superinsulators' promise to transform materials research, electronics design

To perform the experiment, the researchers used a dilution refrigerator, a device in which the temperature can be lowered to several millikelvin, just above absolute zero.  The thin superinsulating films are then placed in the camera of the dilution fridge.
To perform the experiment, the researchers used a dilution refrigerator, a device in which the temperature can be lowered to several millikelvin, just above absolute zero. The thin superinsulating films are then placed in the camera of the dilution fridge.

Abstract:
Superinsulation may sound like a marketing gimmick for a drafty attic or winter coat. But it is actually a newly discovered fundamental state of matter created by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory in collaboration with several European institutions. This discovery opens new directions of inquiry in condensed matter physics and breaks ground for a new generation of microelectronics.

Newly discovered 'superinsulators' promise to transform materials research, electronics design

ARGONNE, IL | Posted on April 8th, 2008

Led by Argonne senior scientist Valerii Vinokur and Russian scientist Tatyana Baturina, an international team of scientists from Argonne, Germany, Russia and Belgium fashioned a thin film of titanium nitride which they then chilled to near absolute zero. When they tried to pass a current through the material, the researchers noticed that its resistance suddenly increased by a factor of 100,000 once the temperature dropped below a certain threshold. The same sudden change also occurred when the researchers decreased the external magnetic field.

Like superconductors, which have applications in many different areas of physics, from accelerators to magnetic-levitation (maglev) trains to MRI machines, superinsulators could eventually find their way into a number of products, including circuits, sensors and battery shields.

If, for example, a battery is left exposed to the air, the charge will eventually drain from it in a matter of days or weeks because the air is not a perfect insulator, according to Vinokur. "If you pass a current through a superconductor, then it will carry the current forever; conversely, if you have a superinsulator, then it will hold a charge forever," he said.

"Titanium nitride films, as well as films prepared from some other materials, can be either superconductors or insulators depending on the thickness of the film," Vinokur said. "If you take the film which is just on the insulating side of the transition and decrease the temperature or magnetic field, then the film all of a sudden becomes a superinsulator."

Scientists could eventually form superinsulators that would encapsulate superconducting wires, creating an optimally efficient electrical pathway with almost no energy lost as heat. A miniature version of these superinsulated superconducting wires could find their way into more efficient electrical circuits.

Titanium nitride's sudden transition to a superinsulator occurs because the electrons in the material join together in twosomes called Cooper pairs. When these Cooper pairs of electrons join together in long chains, they enable the unrestricted motion of electrons and the easy flow of current, creating a superconductor. In superinsulators, however, the Cooper pairs stay separate from each other, forming self-locking roadblocks.

"In superinsulators, Cooper pairs avoid each other, creating enormous electric forces that oppose penetration of the current into the material," Vinokur said. "It's exactly the opposite of the superconductor," he added.

The theory behind the experiment stemmed from Argonne's Materials Theory Institute, which Vinokur organized six years ago in the laboratory's Materials Science Division. The MTI hosts a handful of visiting scholars from around the world to perform cutting-edge research on the most pressing questions in condensed matter physics. Upon completion of their tenure at Argonne, these scientists return to their home institutions but continue to collaborate on the joint projects. The MTI attracts the world's best condensed matter scientists, including Russian "experimental star" Tatyana Baturina, who, according to Vinokur, "became a driving force in our work on superinsulators."

Scientists from the Institute of Semiconductor Physics in Novosibirsk, Russia, Regensburg and Bochum universities in Germany and Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre in Leuven, Belgium, also participated in the research.

The research appears in the April 3 issue of Nature.

####

About Argonne National Laboratory
Argonne National Laboratory brings the world's brightest scientists and engineers together to find exciting and creative new solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America 's scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

By Jared Sagoff.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Steve McGregor
630/252-5580

Copyright © Argonne National Laboratory

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

NREL Announces New Center Directors to lead R&D, Analysis Efforts September 30th, 2014

Yale University and Leica Microsystems Partner to Establish Microscopy Center of Excellence: Yale Welcomes Scientists to Participate in Core Facility Opening and Super- Resolution Workshops October 20 Through 31, 2014 September 30th, 2014

Speed at its limits September 30th, 2014

Research mimics brain cells to boost memory power September 30th, 2014

Discoveries

Research mimics brain cells to boost memory power September 30th, 2014

Ad-REIC vaccine: A magic bullet for cancer treatment September 30th, 2014

New Topical Hemostatic Agent: Neutral Self-Assembling Peptide Hydrogel September 30th, 2014

Chemical interactions between silver nanoparticles and thiols: A comparison of mercaptohexanol again September 30th, 2014

Announcements

Park Systems Announces Outsourced Analytical Services Including AFM Surface Imaging, Data Analysis and Interpretation September 30th, 2014

Ad-REIC vaccine: A magic bullet for cancer treatment September 30th, 2014

New Topical Hemostatic Agent: Neutral Self-Assembling Peptide Hydrogel September 30th, 2014

Chemical interactions between silver nanoparticles and thiols: A comparison of mercaptohexanol again September 30th, 2014

Research partnerships

Research mimics brain cells to boost memory power September 30th, 2014

'Pixel' engineered electronics have growth potential: Rice, Oak Ridge, Vanderbilt, Penn scientists lead creation of atom-scale semiconducting composites September 29th, 2014

Teijin Aramidís carbon nanotube fibers awarded with Paul Schlack prize: New generation super fibers bring wave of innovations to fiber market September 25th, 2014

Smallest-possible diamonds form ultra-thin nanothread September 25th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More














ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE