Print 34 comment(s) - last by KingstonU.. on Jun 11 at 8:58 PM

The University of Texas has created the thinnest superconductor yet, pictured here using a scanning tunneling microscope and colorization. The consists of a 2-atom thick layer of lead deposit as a thin film on silicon. The new superconductor could unlock novel applications.  (Source: University of Texas)
New sheet could be used in MRI machines, particle accelerators, and more

Superconducting is one of the most promising fields of electronics research.  Superconductors feature virtually no resistance and could one day create a digital world without power losses and with many unique applications.  While the race to create room temperature superconductors continues, researchers continue to define designs based on traditional superconducting materials as well.

Researchers at the University of Texas have created super-thin sheets of lead -- merely 2 atoms thick -- that are capable of superconducting.  The material is the thinnest superconductor created to date.

Charge moves across the new material, as in other superconductors, via Cooper pairs, a pair of electrons dancing across the surface.  Typically this movement can occur in three dimensions. The new material is novel in that it confines the movement to two directions, making it easier to control and providing more applications.

Dr. Ken Shih who led the research describes, "To be able to control this material-to shape it into new geometries-and explore what happens is very exciting.  My hope is that this superconductive surface will enable one to build devices and study new properties of superconductivity."

The new sheet was manufactured using advanced deposition techniques, which deposited a thin, uniform film of lead atoms onto a silicon substrate with, according to the researchers, no impurities.  Dr. Shih comments, "We can make this film, and it has perfect crystalline structure-more perfect than most thin films made of other materials."

The new material could be used in MRI machines, particle accelerators, quantum interference devices, and other devices that use superconductors.  It may also help the researchers unlock new insight into superconductor behavior, enabling them to create high temperature superconductors, or superconductors with other unique properties like immunity to magnetism.

The new research is reported in the June 5 issue of the journal Science.

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Nice picture
By grandpope on 6/10/2009 2:02:41 PM , Rating: 2
Am I the only one that feels that image is pointless?

RE: Nice picture
By inighthawki on 6/10/2009 2:04:43 PM , Rating: 5
Maybe to you, other people like myself find it somewhat interesting what it looks like at that level of zoom ;)

RE: Nice picture
By acase on 6/10/2009 2:14:18 PM , Rating: 2
I dunno, I stared at it long enough and felt like I was tripping...sadly the most fun I've had at work all day.

RE: Nice picture
By cherrycoke on 6/10/2009 2:16:58 PM , Rating: 2
Ha ha, I stared at it at work too. I feel dizzy.

RE: Nice picture
By theslug on 6/10/2009 2:24:30 PM , Rating: 2
I've been staring at it, but so far I don't see any 3D image popping out.

RE: Nice picture
By ClownPuncher on 6/10/2009 2:51:25 PM , Rating: 2
It's starting to look like a Q-Bert level to me.

RE: Nice picture
By cheetah2k on 6/10/2009 9:55:41 PM , Rating: 2
Look out Superman, xray proof underwares on the way ;-p

RE: Nice picture
By SiliconJon on 6/10/2009 2:16:34 PM , Rating: 2
The picture is great. The caption is what needs something more.

RE: Nice picture
By Smilin on 6/10/2009 2:28:21 PM , Rating: 2
It moves if you stare at it long enough.

RE: Nice picture
By Teancum on 6/10/2009 2:49:09 PM , Rating: 2
If you cross your eyes slightly until the two dots become one a picture will appear in the background.

RE: Nice picture
By HostileEffect on 6/10/2009 3:41:26 PM , Rating: 2
Only if you are capable of seeing those types of images. I think they are called radioscopic? Correct me if I'm wrong.

RE: Nice picture
By kontorotsui on 6/10/2009 5:37:54 PM , Rating: 3
You are wrong. They are called "autostereograms".

RE: Nice picture
By KingstonU on 6/11/2009 8:58:17 PM , Rating: 2
I thought they were called "Magic Eye", why did they stop making those?

RE: Nice picture
By MatthiasF on 6/10/2009 4:31:24 PM , Rating: 4
What do you mean? It has lots of points.

Bright yellow points.

RE: Nice picture
By mikeyD95125 on 6/10/2009 5:33:42 PM , Rating: 2
Ha good point. Does anyone know what temperature they had this at?

I'm qurious...
By Sanity on 6/10/2009 3:02:09 PM , Rating: 3
As to what a sheet of lead that thin would look like to the naked eye. Totally opaque? Some transparency?

RE: I'm qurious...
By Sanity on 6/10/2009 3:03:13 PM , Rating: 2
Or is that tiny picture at the top supposed to be it?

RE: I'm qurious...
By Goty on 6/10/2009 3:08:41 PM , Rating: 2
What it would "look like" at that level is kind of a moot question since the scale of the structures we are talking about is significantly less than the wavelength of light.

But yes, in an easily understandable way, one would assume it would probably look something like the picture.

RE: I'm qurious...
By MozeeToby on 6/10/2009 3:38:59 PM , Rating: 4
Just a shot in the dark, but I would say opaque. Keep in mind that when you write with a pencil you're actually laying down sheets of graphite that are only a couple atoms thick too.

RE: I'm qurious...
By michaelklachko on 6/11/09, Rating: 0
RE: I'm qurious...
By achintya on 6/11/2009 10:45:06 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not really sure but I doubt that the writing from our pencils would be just 2 atoms thick.. I think it would be more. Do you have any links for what you say?

RE: I'm qurious...
By siliconvideo on 6/10/2009 3:59:45 PM , Rating: 2
Notice the scale in the picture, it’s one billionth of a meter. The picture was not created with visual light, it was probably created using a force microscope. A force microscope uses a one atom wide tip probe to scan the surface measuring electric fields generated by the electron cloud. Then software re-constructs an image we can look at.

As far as being opaque or not, 2 atoms thick would allow visual light through.

RE: I'm qurious...
By Sanity on 6/10/2009 5:09:54 PM , Rating: 2
Wasn't talking about the giant orange scanning tunneling microscope picture. I was talking about the small picture next to Mick's name at the top of the article. It looks like it might be of lead foil. If that's the stuff from the article, then it's certainly opaque.

RE: I'm qurious...
By futrtrubl on 6/10/2009 7:15:36 PM , Rating: 2
Considering they lay down the layer of lead on a substrate of silicon I doubt that foil is what they are talking about.

RE: I'm qurious...
By knutjb on 6/10/2009 7:17:03 PM , Rating: 2
Hard to say but 2 microns of silver reflects 96% of light shown at it. Lead might be ever so slightly translucent, hope they will show it back lit.

My question is how will environmentalist view lead regardless of quantity, being used, not very rohs compliant...

RE: I'm qurious...
By radializer on 6/10/2009 9:38:31 PM , Rating: 2
Hard to say but 2 microns of silver reflects 96% of light shown at it.

And there's a world of difference between 2 microns and 2 atomic layers my friend ... the former is 20,000A and the latter is roughly 5A ~ 6A --- a difference of over 3 orders of magnitude.

Anyway, the whole question of such a film being transparent is moot since such a thin film cannot exist without any support structure or backbone - it would fall apart due to the various internal and external strains/stresses.

RE: I'm qurious...
By nineball9 on 6/11/2009 6:57:50 AM , Rating: 2
The picture next to Mick's name is lead ore. DT simply stole it from a commercial web site.
Or google "lead ore photo".

What Temperature?
By drank12quartsstrohsbeer on 6/10/2009 2:23:18 PM , Rating: 5
Thats kinda important

RE: What Temperature?
By Goty on 6/10/2009 3:07:00 PM , Rating: 2
I'm assuming nothing higher than normal Cupric semiconductors. I have a feeling the headline would have been some what more exclamatory if it was much higher.


RE: What Temperature?
By kontorotsui on 6/10/2009 5:40:12 PM , Rating: 2
My question, too.
Since there is still a race to room temperature superconductors, my guess it is not higher than the highest temperature so far.

By dagamer34 on 6/10/2009 2:18:22 PM , Rating: 5

I felt obligated to do that.

RE: yeah
By Grumpy1 on 6/10/09, Rating: -1
RE: yeah
By Black69ta on 6/11/2009 1:52:14 AM , Rating: 1
I second that Boomer Sooners, All the way.

I felt obligated to vote you back up then post.

I knew it..
By codeThug on 6/10/2009 9:22:18 PM , Rating: 4
I knew it. My crib was a superconductor.

Then I went and chewed all the lead paint off it.


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