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Laser Pulses, Class of New Materials Show Potential for Energy Efficiency

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An experiment that involves the cutting edge of condensed matter physics and materials science could make superconductivity at room temperature and more efficient energy usage a reality.

Thanks to innovative laser techniques, a class of materials shows a new potential for energy efficiency.
Thanks to innovative laser techniques, a class of materials shows a new potential for energy efficiency. Courtesy of Pixabay.

An international collaboration, led by the scientists of Italy's International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) in Trieste, Università Cattolica di Brescia and Politecnico di Milano, used tailored laser pulses to snap the electronic interactions in a copper, oxygen and bismuth compound. The scientists identified the condition for which electrons do not repel each other, which is an essential prerequisite for current to flow without resistance.

Using sophisticated laser techniques that make it possible to investigate the so-called non-equilibrium regime, the scientists found an innovative way to understand the properties of a special class of materials.

With the first laser pulse, they drove the material out of its equilibrium state. A second ultrashort pulse then let them disentangle the components that characterize the interaction between the electrons while the material was returning to equilibrium.

Through this approach, the scientists found that in this material, the repulsion between the electrons, and their insulating properties, disappeared even at room temperature.

Having discovered that the prerequisites for producing a superconductor at room temperature exist, scientists now have new tools at their disposal for finding the correct formula.

The SISSA team dealt with the theoretical aspects of the research while the I-LAMP labs of Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Brescia) and Politecnico di Milano coordinated the experimental side. Their combined research has been published in the journal Nature Physics (doi:10.1038/nphys4112) and opens new perspectives for the development of superconducting materials with applications in electronics, diagnostics and transport.

Photonics Spectra
Aug 2017
Italy's International School for Advanced StudiesSISSAUniversità Cattolica di BresciaPolitecnico di MilanoResearch & TechnologyeducationlaserssuperconductivitymaterialsEuropepulsed lasersTech Pulse

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