Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

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

Two-dimensional melting of hard spheres experimentally unravelled after 60 years: First definitive experimental evidence of two-dimensional melting of hard spheres April 21st, 2017

National Conference on Nanomaterials, (NCN-2017) April 21st, 2017

NanoMONITOR shares its latest developments concerning the NanoMONITOR Software and the Monitoring stations April 21st, 2017

Nanomechanics, Inc. Unveils New Product at ICMCTF Show April 25th: Nanoindentation experts will launch the new Gemini that measures the interaction of two objects that are sliding across each other – not merely making contact April 21st, 2017

Possible Futures

Two-dimensional melting of hard spheres experimentally unravelled after 60 years: First definitive experimental evidence of two-dimensional melting of hard spheres April 21st, 2017

Rice crew revved for Nanocar Race: Nanocar creator James Tour and team take on international competition with single-molecule marvel April 20th, 2017

Making Batteries From Waste Glass Bottles: UCR researchers are turning glass bottles into high performance lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and personal electronics April 19th, 2017

Better living through pressure: Functional nanomaterials made easy April 19th, 2017

Sensors

Better living through pressure: Functional nanomaterials made easy April 19th, 2017

A Sensitive And Dynamic Tactile Sensor Read more from Asian Scientist Magazine at: https://www.asianscientist.com/2017/04/tech/tactile-3d-active-matrix-sensor/ April 18th, 2017

AIM Photonics Presents Cutting-Edge Integrated Photonics Technology Developments to Packed House at OFC 2017, the Optical Networking and Communication Conference & Exhibition April 11th, 2017

New technology could offer cheaper, faster food testing: Specialized droplets interact with bacteria and can be analyzed using a smartphone April 7th, 2017

Discoveries

Two-dimensional melting of hard spheres experimentally unravelled after 60 years: First definitive experimental evidence of two-dimensional melting of hard spheres April 21st, 2017

Wood filter removes toxic dye from water April 21st, 2017

Rice crew revved for Nanocar Race: Nanocar creator James Tour and team take on international competition with single-molecule marvel April 20th, 2017

Better living through pressure: Functional nanomaterials made easy April 19th, 2017

Announcements

Two-dimensional melting of hard spheres experimentally unravelled after 60 years: First definitive experimental evidence of two-dimensional melting of hard spheres April 21st, 2017

National Conference on Nanomaterials, (NCN-2017) April 21st, 2017

NanoMONITOR shares its latest developments concerning the NanoMONITOR Software and the Monitoring stations April 21st, 2017

Nanomechanics, Inc. Unveils New Product at ICMCTF Show April 25th: Nanoindentation experts will launch the new Gemini that measures the interaction of two objects that are sliding across each other – not merely making contact April 21st, 2017

Quantum nanoscience

The speed limit for intra-chip communications in microprocessors of the future January 23rd, 2017

First experimental proof of a 70 year old physics theory: First observation of magnetic phase transition in 2-D materials, as predicted by the Nobel winner Onsager in 1943 January 6th, 2017

Quantum simulation technique yields topological soliton state in SSH model January 3rd, 2017

Diamonds are technologists' best friends: Researchers from the Lomonosov Moscow State University have grown needle- and thread-like diamonds and studied their useful properties December 30th, 2016

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