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Researchers Produce a Magnetically Enhanced Stable Superconductor

Researchers from the University of Würzburg, along with members of an international team, have succeeded in producing a unique state of superconductivity. This finding might help in the advancement of quantum computing. Nature Physics has published the findings.

Superconductors are the perfect starting material for electronic parts in magnetic levitation trains, particle accelerators, and MRI machines because they transmit electricity without any electrical resistance. However, magnetism readily disturbs typical superconductors.

Now, a multinational team of scientists has constructed a hybrid device whose function can be precisely controlled and consists of a stable proximitized superconductor augmented by magnetism.

The superconductor was coupled with a unique kind of semiconductor called a topological insulator. “Topological insulators are materials that conduct electricity on their surface but not inside. This is due to their unique topological structure, i.e., the special arrangement of the electrons,” Professor Charles Gould, a physicist at the Institute for Topological Insulators at the University of Würzburg (JMU), explains that this is because of their distinct topological structure, or the particular arrangement of the electrons. “The exciting thing is that we can equip topological insulators with magnetic atoms so that they can be controlled by a magnet.”

A link between two superconductors divided by a thin layer of non-superconducting material is known as a Josephson junction, which was created by coupling the superconductors with topological insulators. “This allowed us to combine the properties of superconductivity and semiconductors,” Gould explains.

Thus, we combine the topological insulator’s controllability with the benefits of a superconductor. We can now accurately regulate the superconducting properties by applying an external magnetic field. This represents a significant advance in quantum physics.”

Magnetism and superconductivity combine

Superconductivity and magnetism are coupled in an exotic state created by the unique combination; ordinarily, these are opposing phenomena that hardly ever coexist. We refer to this as the Fulde-Ferrell-Larkin-Ovchinnikov (p-FFLO) state produced by proximity.

A practical use for this new “superconductor with a control function” would be the creation of quantum computers. Quantum computers, in contrast to traditional computers, operate on quantum bits, or qubits, which are capable of assuming several states at once rather than just two.

“So we combine the advantages of a superconductor with the controllability of the topological insulator. Using an external magnetic field, we can now precisely control the superconducting properties. This is a true breakthrough in quantum physics.”

Intersection of Superconductivity and Magnetism

Superconductivity and magnetism, which are generally opposed phenomena that rarely coexist, are united in an exotic state created by the unique combination. This condition is referred to as the proximity-induced Fulde-Ferrell-Larkin-Ovchinnikov (p-FFLO) state.

Potential uses for the novel “superconductor with a control function” include the advancement of quantum computing. Quantum computers, as opposed to traditional computers, operate on quantum bits, or qubits, which are capable of assuming several states at once rather than just two.

“The problem is that quantum bits are currently very unstable because they are extremely sensitive to external influences, such as electric or magnetic fields,” Gould explains. “Our discovery could help stabilize quantum bits so that they can be used in quantum computers in the future.”

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