- Number 300 |
- November 23, 2009
Building superconducting thin
films layer by layer
Using a precision technique for making superconducting thin films layer-by-layer, physicists at DOE's Brookhaven Lab have identified a single layer responsible for one such material’s ability to carry current with no energy loss. The technique could be used to engineer ultrathin films with “tunable” superconductivity for higher-efficiency electronic devices. The scientists identified the layer responsible for the material’s high-temperature superconductivity by systematically adding zinc, known to dampen superconductivity in cuprates, to each layer one by one. The added zinc lowered the superconducting transition temperature only when it was placed in a specific copper-oxide layer, proving that that single layer, less than one nanometer thick, is the “hot” one. The discovery that high-temperature superconductivity can exist, undiminished, in a single copper-oxide layer, opens the door to the fabrication of electronic devices where the superconducting properties can be controlled by external electric or magnetic fields.
[Karen McNulty Walsh, 631.344.8350,