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Designer superconductivity in interacting quantum metamaterials

Project description

On the way to designer room-temperature superconductors one atom at a time

Superconductors are a diverse group of materials including metals, ceramics, organic materials and heavily doped semiconductors in which electrons jump from atom to atom with no resistance. Despite their diversity, they are elusive enigmas difficult to engineer, especially those having superconductivity at temperatures easily achievable with simple processes. The EU-funded DESIQM project is developing a revolutionary technique to create tuneable electron interactions. The atom-by-atom bottom-up design paradigm will overcome important barriers for the first time and pave the way for room-temperature designer superconductors from interacting quantum metamaterials.


Despite intense research activity, most new superconductors are discovered by chance, rather than by deliberate design. Consequently, they have limited tunability, which has plagued progress towards a room-temperature demonstration. In particular, electron interactions are extremely challenging to tune, but are assumed to be vital in most high-temperature superconductors. Here I introduce a new paradigm for the bottom-up fabrication of custom-designed superconductors, called interacting quantum metamaterials. These metamaterials are precisely constructed, one atom at a time, using a scanning tunneling microscope. They inherit tunable, strong electron interactions from their unique substrate: a topological Kondo insulator (TKI). A TKI substrate neatly overcomes the two impediments for interacting quantum metamaterials: it hosts quasiparticles that move slow enough to interact with one another, and it is a true topological bulk insulator, which electrically confines these quasiparticles to the surface, where they are easily accessed and manipulated. By rearranging surface atoms, I will create metamaterial geometries that localize these novel TKI surface quasiparticles in order to mimic the parent state of many high-temperature superconductors, a Mott-like insulator. Then, I will adjust the electron concentration by tip-induced electrostatic gating and behold the onset of superconductivity in a fully tunable experimental platform. These results will open a new path to room-temperature superconductors, leading to highly efficient power transmission and storage, which can reduce CO2 emissions and slow climate change.


Net EU contribution
€ 212 933,76
OX1 2JD Oxford
United Kingdom

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South East (England) Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Oxfordshire
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 212 933,76