Science & Technology

‘Lazarus Superconductivity’ Observed – Rare Phenomenon Called Re-Entrant Superconductivity

A crew of researchers has noticed a uncommon phenomenon known as re-entrant superconductivity within the materials uranium ditelluride. Nicknamed “Lazarus superconductivity,” the phenomenon happens when a superconducting state arises, breaks down, then re-emerges in a fabric as a result of a change in a particular parameter–on this case, the applying of a really robust magnetic discipline. The invention furthers the case for uranium ditelluride as a promising materials to be used in quantum computer systems. Credit score: Emily Edwards/JQI

Researchers from the College of Maryland, the Nationwide Institute of Requirements and Expertise (NIST), the Nationwide Excessive Magnetic Area Laboratory (Nationwide MagLab) and the College of Oxford have noticed a uncommon phenomenon known as re-entrant superconductivity within the materials uranium ditelluride. The invention furthers the case for uranium ditelluride as a promising materials to be used in quantum computer systems.

Nicknamed “Lazarus superconductivity” after the biblical determine who rose from the lifeless, the phenomenon happens when a superconducting state arises, breaks down, then re-emerges in a fabric as a result of a change in a particular parameter—on this case, the applying of a really robust magnetic discipline. The researchers printed their results right this moment, October 7, 2019, within the journal Nature Physics.

As soon as dismissed by physicists for its obvious lack of fascinating bodily properties, uranium ditelluride is having its personal Lazarus second. The present research is the second in as many months (each printed by members of the identical analysis crew) to show uncommon and stunning superconductivity states within the materials.

“It is a very lately found superconductor with a number of different unconventional habits, so it’s already bizarre,” stated Nicholas Butch, an adjunct assistant professor of physics at UMD and a physicist on the NIST Center for Neutron Research. “[Lazarus superconductivity] virtually definitely has one thing to do with the novelty of the fabric. There’s one thing totally different happening in there.”

The earlier analysis, published on August 16, 2019, within the journal Science, described the uncommon and unique floor state generally known as spin-triplet superconductivity in uranium ditelluride. The invention marked the primary clue that uranium ditelluride is price a re-assessment, as a result of its uncommon bodily properties and its excessive potential to be used in quantum computer systems.

“That is certainly a outstanding materials and it’s conserving us very busy,” stated Johnpierre Paglione, a professor of physics at UMD, the director of UMD’s Heart for Nanophysics and Superior Supplies (CNAM; quickly to be renamed the Quantum Supplies Heart) and a co-author of the paper. “Uranium ditelluride could very properly grow to be the ‘textbook’ spin-triplet superconductor that folks have been looking for for dozens of years and it possible has extra surprises in retailer. It could possibly be the subsequent strontium ruthenate—one other proposed spin-triplet superconductor that has been studied for greater than 25 years.”

Superconductivity is a state through which electrons journey by way of a fabric with excellent effectivity. Against this, copper—which is second solely to silver when it comes to its means to conduct electrons—loses roughly 20% energy over long-distance transmission strains, because the electrons bump round inside the materials throughout journey.

Lazarus superconductivity is particularly unusual, as a result of robust magnetic fields often destroy the superconducting state within the overwhelming majority of supplies. In uranium ditelluride, nonetheless, a powerful magnetic discipline coupled with particular experimental situations prompted Lazarus superconductivity to come up not simply as soon as, however twice.

For Butch, Paglione and their crew, the invention of this uncommon type of superconductivity in uranium ditelluride was serendipitous; the research’s lead creator, CNAM Analysis Affiliate Sheng Ran, synthesized the crystal unintentionally whereas making an attempt to provide one other uranium-based compound. The crew determined to strive some experiments anyway, regardless that earlier analysis on the compound hadn’t yielded something uncommon.

The crew’s curiosity was quickly rewarded many instances over. Within the earlier Science paper, the researchers reported that uranium ditelluride’s superconductivity concerned uncommon electron configurations known as spin triplets, through which pairs of electrons are aligned in the identical course. Within the overwhelming majority of superconductors, the orientations—known as spins—of paired electrons level in reverse instructions. These pairs are (considerably counterintuitively) known as singlets. Magnetic fields can extra simply disrupt singlets, killing superconductivity.

Spin triplet superconductors, nonetheless, can face up to a lot greater magnetic fields. The crew’s early findings led them to Nationwide MagLab, the place a novel mixture of very high-field magnets, succesful instrumentation and resident experience allowed the researchers to push uranium ditelluride even additional.

On the lab, the crew examined uranium ditelluride in a number of the highest magnetic fields obtainable. By exposing the fabric to magnetic fields as much as 65 teslas—greater than 30 instances the power of a typical MRI magnet—the crew tried to search out the higher restrict at which the magnetic fields crushed the fabric’s superconductivity. Butch and his crew additionally experimented with orienting the uranium ditelluride crystal at a number of totally different angles in relation to the course of the magnetic discipline.

At about 16 teslas, the fabric’s superconducting state abruptly modified. Whereas it died in a lot of the experiments, it endured when the crystal was aligned at a really particular angle in relation to the magnetic discipline. This uncommon habits continued till about 35 teslas, at which level all superconductivity vanished and the electrons shifted their alignment, getting into a brand new magnetic section.

Because the researchers elevated the magnetic discipline whereas persevering with to experiment with angles, they discovered {that a} totally different orientation of the crystal yielded one more superconducting section that endured to at the least 65 teslas, the utmost discipline power the crew examined. It was a record-busting efficiency for a superconductor and marked the primary time two field-induced superconducting phases have been present in the identical compound.

As an alternative of killing superconductivity in uranium ditelluride, excessive magnetic fields appeared to stabilize it. Whereas it’s not but clear precisely what is going on on the atomic stage, Butch stated the proof factors to a phenomenon essentially totally different than something scientists have seen up to now.

“I’m going to exit on a limb and say that these are most likely totally different—quantum mechanically totally different—from different superconductors that we find out about,” Butch stated. “It’s sufficiently totally different, I believe, to count on it is going to take some time to determine what’s happening.”

On prime of its convention-defying physics, uranium ditelluride reveals each signal of being a topological superconductor, as are different spin-triplet superconductors, Butch added. Its topological properties counsel it could possibly be a very correct and sturdy part in quantum computer systems of the longer term.

“The invention of this Lazarus superconductivity at record-high fields is prone to be among the many most essential discoveries to emerge from this lab in its 25-year historical past,” stated Nationwide MagLab Director Greg Boebinger. “I might not be stunned if unraveling the mysteries of uranium ditelluride results in even stranger manifestations of superconductivity sooner or later.”


This launch was tailored from textual content supplied by the Nationwide Excessive Magnetic Area Laboratory.

Along with Butch, Paglione and Ran, UMD-affiliated co-authors of the analysis paper embody physics postdoctoral researcher Yun Suk Eo; physics graduate college students I-Lin Liu, Daniel Campbell and Christopher Eckberg; undergraduate physics main Paul Neves, physics college assistant Wesley Fuhrman; CNAM (QMC) Assistant Analysis Scientist Hyunsoo Kim and CNAM (QMC) Affiliate Analysis Scientist Shanta Saha.


“Excessive magnetic field-boosted superconductivity” by Sheng Ran, I-Lin Liu, Yun Suk Eo, Daniel Campbell, Paul Neves, Wesley Fuhrman, Shanta Saha, Christopher Eckberg, Hyunsoo Kim, Johnpierre Paglione, David Graf, Fedor Balakirev, John Singleton and Nicholas Butch, 7 October 2019, Nature Physics.
DOI: 10.1038/s41567-019-0670-x

“Almost ferromagnetic spin-triplet superconductivity” by Sheng Ran, Chris Eckberg, Qing-Ping Ding, Yuji Furukawa, Tristin Metz, Shanta R. Saha, I-Lin Liu, Mark Zic, Hyunsoo Kim, Johnpierre Paglione and Nicholas P. Butch, 16 August 2019, Science.
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav8645

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