Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Electronic Liquid Crystal States Discovered in Parent of Iron-Based Superconductor

J.C. Seamus Davis (photo courtesy of Cornell University)
J.C. Seamus Davis (photo courtesy of Cornell University)

Abstract:
Findings hint at common mechanism for high-temperature superconductivity in two families

Electronic Liquid Crystal States Discovered in Parent of Iron-Based Superconductor

Upton, NY | Posted on January 9th, 2010

An international team lead by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Center for Emergent Superconductivity, an Energy Frontier Research Center headquartered at DOE's Brookhaven National Laboratory, has discovered evidence for ‘electronic liquid crystal' states within the parent compound of one type of iron-based, high-temperature (high-Tc) superconductor.

"Because these findings appear similar to what we have observed in the parent state of cuprate superconductors, it suggests this could represent a common factor in the mechanism for high-Tc superconductivity in these two otherwise very different families of materials," said team leader Séamus Davis, Director of the Center for Emergent Superconductivity at Brookhaven and the J.D. White Distinguished Professor of Physical Sciences at Cornell University. The team of scientists describes their findings, which may help elucidate that long-sought mechanism and lead to higher-temperature superconductors, in the January 8, 2010, issue of Science.

The findings came as a surprise because many theorists had expected the iron-based materials to act more like conventional metal superconductors, where electrons pair up to carry current effortlessly, but without requiring any specific spatial arrangements. These materials must be kept at nearly absolute zero, or -270 degrees Celsius, to operate as superconductors.

In contrast, the newer cuprate and iron-based superconductors operate at a range of warmer, though still chilly, temperatures (e.g., -120 degrees Celsius for cuprates and -220 degrees Celsius for iron-based compounds) that make them potentially more practical for large-scale, real-world applications such as zero-loss power transmission lines. Understanding the mechanism or mechanisms by which they operate could open the door to engineering even warmer, or ideally, room temperature, versions.

The scientists conducted their study through the use of a newly improved and uniquely sensitive spectroscopic image-scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) technique. Davis was recently awarded the Kamerlingh-Onnes Prize for pushing the limits of this technique, which allows direct imaging of the arrangements of electrons in materials and exploration of the electronic structure of exquisitely prepared crystals containing calcium, iron, cobalt, and arsenic. A research group at DOE's Ames Laboratory led by Paul Canfield, Ames Laboratory Senior Physicist and Iowa State University Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy, fabricated the iron-based crystals.

An important breakthrough was the capability demonstrated by the team to achieve atomically flat and perfectly debris-free surfaces for these studies. Without these conditions the spectroscopic imaging STM techniques cannot be applied. But as soon as the first large-scale images of the electronic arrangements were achieved, it became clear to the team that they were onto something very different than expected.

The scientists observed static, nanoscale arrangements of electrons measuring about eight times the distance between individual iron atoms, all aligned along one crystal axis reminiscent of the way molecules spatially order in a liquid crystal display. They also found that the electrons that are free to travel through the material do so in a direction perpendicular to these aligned ‘electronic liquid crystal' states. This indicates that the electrons carrying the current are distinct from those apparently aligned in the electronic liquid crystals.

The next step will be to see how these conditions affect the superconductivity of the material when it is transformed to a superconductor.

"Then, if we're able to relate our observations in the iron-based superconductors to what happens in cuprate superconductors, it may help us understand the overall mechanism for high-Tc superconductivity in all of these materials. That understanding could, in turn, help us to engineer new materials with improved superconducting properties for energy applications," Davis said.

In addition to those institutions already mentioned, scientists from the following institutions collaborated on this research: the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University and St. Andrews University, Scotland. The research was funded by: DOE's Office of Science, the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, the U.K. Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and the Scottish Funding Council.

####

About Brookhaven National Laboratory
One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE's Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Karen McNulty Walsh
631 344-8350


Mona S. Rowe
631 344-5056

Copyright © Brookhaven 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

Graphene holds up under high pressure: Used in filtration membranes, ultrathin material could help make desalination more productive April 24th, 2017

Nanoparticle vaccine shows potential as immunotherapy to fight multiple cancer types April 24th, 2017

Russian scientists create new system of concrete building structures: Sientists of Peter the Great Saint-Petersburg Polytechnic University developed a new construction technology April 24th, 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

Physics

NIST physicists show ion pairs perform enhanced 'spooky action' March 30th, 2017

Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms: In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport February 20th, 2017

Research reveals novel quantum state in strange insulating materials February 14th, 2017

Sorting machine for atoms:Researchers at the University of Bonn clear a further hurdle on the path to creating quantum computers February 10th, 2017

Discoveries

Graphene holds up under high pressure: Used in filtration membranes, ultrathin material could help make desalination more productive April 24th, 2017

Nanoparticle vaccine shows potential as immunotherapy to fight multiple cancer types April 24th, 2017

Russian scientists create new system of concrete building structures: Sientists of Peter the Great Saint-Petersburg Polytechnic University developed a new construction technology April 24th, 2017

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

Announcements

Graphene holds up under high pressure: Used in filtration membranes, ultrathin material could help make desalination more productive April 24th, 2017

Nanoparticle vaccine shows potential as immunotherapy to fight multiple cancer types April 24th, 2017

Russian scientists create new system of concrete building structures: Sientists of Peter the Great Saint-Petersburg Polytechnic University developed a new construction technology April 24th, 2017

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

Energy

SUNY Polytechnic Institute Announces Total of 172 Teams Selected to Compete in Solar in Your Community Challenge: Teams from 40 states, plus Washington, DC, 2 Territories, and 4 American Indian Reservations, Will Deploy Solar in Underserved Communities April 20th, 2017

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

Shedding light on the absorption of light by titanium dioxide April 14th, 2017

Controlling forces between atoms, molecules, promising for ‘2-D hyperbolic’ materials April 4th, 2017

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