Dr. Ken Shih and some of his physicist colleagues, have reported the development of the thinnest superconducting metal layer ever created, a superconducting sheet of lead only two atoms thick.
This invention will be the base of future research in superconductor technology and will probably revolutionize electronics industry. The superconductors’ unique ability is to maintain electrical current indefinitely without any power source. This recommends them in many high-tech applications like MRI machines, particle accelerators and quantum interference devices.
Normally, electrons move through the material in pairs, called Cooper pairs. The innovation of Dr. Shih’s ultra-thin lead is represented by the movement of the electrons in the thin superconductor. Electrons are able to move in two dimensions, or one “quantum channel”. By using very advanced materials synthesis techniques, the scientists were able to put the two-atom thick sheet above a silicon surface, resulting a highly uniform sheet without any impurities.
“To be able to control this material-to shape it into new geometries-and explore what happens is very exciting. My hope is that this superconductive surface will enable one to build devices and study new properties of superconductivity. We can make this film, and it has perfect crystalline structure-more perfect than most thin films made of other materials” said Dr. Shih.