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Creating better superconductors by periodic nanopatterning

Milan P. Allan, Mark H. Fischer, Oliver Ostojic, Arjo Andringa

SciPost Phys. 3, 010 (2017) · published 10 August 2017


The quest to create superconductors with higher transition temperatures is as old as superconductivity itself. One strategy, popular after the realization that (conventional) superconductivity is mediated by phonons, is to chemically combine different elements within the crystalline unit cell to maximize the electron-phonon coupling. This led to the discovery of NbTi and Nb3Sn, to name just the most technologically relevant examples. Here, we propose a radically different approach to transform a `pristine' material into a better (meta-) superconductor by making use of modern fabrication techniques: designing and engineering the electronic properties of thin films via periodic patterning on the nanoscale. We present a model calculation to explore the key effects of different supercells that could be fabricated using nanofabrication or deliberate lattice mismatch, and demonstrate that specific pattern will enhance the coupling and the transition temperature. We also discuss how numerical methods could predict the correct design parameters to improve superconductivity in materials including Al, NbTi, and MgB2

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Ontology / Topics

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Aluminium (Al) Electron-phonon coupling Magnesium diboride (MgB2) Nanofabrication Niobium-Tin (Nb3Sn) Niobium-Titanium (NbTi) Superconductivity/superconductors Thin films

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