Scientists from the Tokyo Metropolitan University in Japan have designed a new type of superconductor. This device is made up of multiple layers of rare alloys. The unique design allows the materials to maintain the properties of a superconductor over a wider range of lattice parameters, as opposed to materials operating without high-entropy-alloy states. The discovery could provide the tools necessary to create high-temperature superconductors.
Superconductors are a vital component in a variety of applications, including electromagnetic and loss-free power transmission. The problem is that scientists have been unable to locate a material capable of retaining the properties of a superconductor at higher temperatures. This has effectively placed a roadblock in this sort of research — until now.
The answer lies in layered materials. Using layered materials made up of alternating superconductor layers and what scientists call ‘blocking layers’ has provided scientists with the tools they need to make high-temperature superconductors a reality. Blocking layers provide insulating spacers, which allow the material to withstand much higher ambient temperatures.
Now, scientists have made a tremendous leap forward in regards to designing those blocking layers. By combining five different rare earth elements, researchers were able to create a high entropy alloy within the blocking layer. Using lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, and samarium, they constructed a high-entropy alloy capable of withstanding fatigue and ductility. This allows researchers to create superconductors that continue to function under high temperatures.
Thanks to the incorporation of these materials, scientists were able to construct a superconductor with enhanced properties. Those materials with the same period in their molecular structure particularly displayed higher superconducting transitions at far higher temperatures. This proved especially true when the design featured blocking layers that had a high entropy alloy. Scientists suspect that this is due to the fact that the high entropy alloys assist in stabilizing the crystal structure within the superconducting layer.
Although more research is required, scientists are confident that these layers hold the key to designing high-powered superconductors that can work at ambient temperatures. These materials could have a plethora of applications in engineering, and promise further exciting discoveries in the realm of superconductors.