Scientists develop world's tiniest superconductor
Tuesday, 30 March 2010, 04:24 Hrs
The Ohio University (OU)-led study provides the first evidence that nanoscale molecular superconducting wires can be fabricated for use in nanoscale electronic devices and energy applications. (A nanometre is a billionth of a metre).
"Researchers have said that it's almost impossible to make nanoscale interconnects using metallic conductors because the resistance increases as the size of wire becomes smaller," said Saw-Wai Hla, associate professor of physics, astronomy at the OU, who led the study.
"The nanowires become so hot that they can melt and destruct. That issue, Joule heating, has been a major barrier for making nanoscale devices a reality," added Saw-Wai Hla, who works at the OU Nanoscale and Quantum Phenomena Institute.
Superconducting materials can carry large electrical currents without loss of power or generating heat. They are currently used in applications ranging from supercomputers to brain imaging devices.
Superconductivity was first discovered in 1911, and until recently, was considered a macroscopic phenomenon. The current finding suggests, however, that it exists at the molecular scale, which opens up a novel route for studying this phenomenon, Hla said, according to an OU release.
"We've opened up a new way to understand this phenomenon, which could lead to new materials that could be engineered to work at higher temperatures," Hla said.
These findings were published in the Monday online edition of Nature Nanotechnology.
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