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.
Call for proposal
See other projects for this call