Nanotechnology Now







Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Argonne scientists discover mechanism behind superinsulation

An electron microscopy image of titanium nitride, on which the effect of superinsulation was first observed.  Courtesy Argonne National Laboratory.
An electron microscopy image of titanium nitride, on which the effect of superinsulation was first observed. Courtesy Argonne National Laboratory.

Abstract:
Discovery may lead to new types of electronics

Argonne scientists discover mechanism behind superinsulation

Argonne, IL | Posted on December 12th, 2009

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have discovered the microscopic mechanism behind the phenomenon of superinsulation, the ability of certain materials to completely block the flow of electric current at low temperatures. The essence of the mechanism is what the authors termed "multi-stage energy relaxation."

Traditionally, energy dissipation accompanying current flow is viewed as disadvantageous, as it transforms electricity into heat and thus results in power losses. In arrays of tunnel junctions that are the basic building units of modern electronics, this dissipation permits the generation of current.

Argonne scientist Valerii Vinokour, along with Russian scientists Tatyana Baturina and Nikolai Chtchelkatchev, found that at very low temperatures the energy transfer from tunneling electrons to the thermal environment may occur in several stages.

"First, the passing electrons lose their energy not directly to the heat bath; they transfer their energy to electron-hole plasma, which they generate themselves," Vinokour said. "Then this plasma 'cloud' transforms the acquired energy into the heat. Thus, tunneling current is controlled by the properties of this electron-hole cloud."

As long as the electrons and holes in the plasma cloud are able to move freely, they can serve as a reservoir for energy—but below certain temperatures, electrons and holes become bound into pairs. This does not allow for the transfer of energy from tunneling electrons and impedes the tunneling current, sending the conductivity of the entire system to zero.

"Electron-hole plasma disappears from the game and electrons cannot generate the energy exchange necessary for tunneling," Vinokour said.

Because the current transfer in thin films and granular systems that exhibit superinsulating behavior relies on electron tunneling, the multistage relaxation explains the origin of the superinsulators.

Superinsulation is the opposite of superconductivity; instead of a material that has no resistivity, a superinsulator has a near-infinite resistance. Integration of the two materials may allow for the creation of a new class of quantum electronic devices. This discovery may one day allow researchers to create super-sensitive sensors and other electronic devices.

An earlier paper on the discovery of superinsulation was published in Nature on April 3, 2008. A paper on the mechanism behind superinsulation has been published in Physical Review Letters.

####

About Argonne National Laboratory
Argonne National Laboratory seeks 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.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Brock Cooper
630/252-5565

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

Feynman Prize Winners Announced! April 26th, 2015

New ASTM Standards Will Help Educate Present and Future Nanotechnology Workforces April 26th, 2015

Heat makes electrons’ spin in magnetic superconductors April 26th, 2015

QD Vision Wins 2015 Bronze Edison Award for Color IQ™ Quantum Dot Technology April 26th, 2015

Possible Futures

Printing Silicon on Paper, with Lasers April 21st, 2015

A glass fiber that brings light to a standstill: By coupling photons to atoms, light in a glass fiber can be slowed down to the speed of an express train; for a short while it can even be brought to a complete stop April 9th, 2015

Nanotechnology in Medical Devices Market is expected to reach $8.5 Billion by 2019 March 25th, 2015

Nanotechnology Enabled Drug Delivery to Influence Future Diagnosis and Treatments of Diseases March 21st, 2015

Sensors

ORNL reports method that takes quantum sensing to new level April 23rd, 2015

New class of 3D-printed aerogels improve energy storage April 22nd, 2015

‘Oxford Instruments Young Nanoscientist India Award 2015’ to Prof. Arindam Ghosh April 20th, 2015

Optical resonance-based biosensors designed for medical applications April 18th, 2015

Discoveries

Heat makes electrons’ spin in magnetic superconductors April 26th, 2015

SEFCU, SUNY Poly CNSE Announce Winning Student-Led Teams in the 6th Annual $500,000 New York Business Plan Competition April 25th, 2015

Northwestern scientists develop first liquid nanolaser: Technology could lead to new way of doing 'lab on a chip' medical diagnostics April 25th, 2015

Fast and accurate 3-D imaging technique to track optically trapped particles April 24th, 2015

Announcements

Feynman Prize Winners Announced! April 26th, 2015

New ASTM Standards Will Help Educate Present and Future Nanotechnology Workforces April 26th, 2015

Heat makes electrons’ spin in magnetic superconductors April 26th, 2015

QD Vision Wins 2015 Bronze Edison Award for Color IQ™ Quantum Dot Technology April 26th, 2015

Quantum nanoscience

Quantum 'paparazzi' film photons in the act of pairing up April 22nd, 2015

From metal to insulator and back again April 22nd, 2015

Quantum model reveals surface structure of water: National Physical Laboratory, IBM and Edinburgh University have used a new quantum model to reveal the molecular structure of water's liquid surface April 20th, 2015

Quantization of 'surface Dirac states' could lead to exotic applications April 15th, 2015

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