‘Re-entrant Superconductivity’ in Uranium Ditelluride Promising for Use in Quantum Computers
Rare ‘Lazarus superconductivity’ observed in promising, rediscovered material
+ Once dismissed by physicists for its apparent lack of interesting physical properties, uranium ditelluride is having its own Lazarus moment. The current study is the second in as many months (both published by members of the same research team) to demonstrate unusual and surprising superconductivity states in the material.
Nicknamed “Lazarus superconductivity” after the biblical character who rose from the dead, the phenomenon occurs when a superconducting state arises, breaks down, then re-emerges in a material due to a change in a specific parameter—in this case, the application of a very strong magnetic field.
+ “This is a very recently discovered superconductor with a host of other unconventional behavior, so it’s already weird,” said Nicholas Butch, an adjunct assistant professor of physics at UMD and a physicist at the NIST Center for Neutron Research. “[Lazarus superconductivity] almost certainly has something to do with the novelty of the material. There’s something different going on in there.”
+ “I’m going to go out on a limb and say that these are probably different—quantum mechanically different—from other superconductors that we know about,” Butch said. “It is sufficiently different, I think, to expect it will take a while to figure out what’s going on.”
+ On top of its convention-defying physics, uranium ditelluride shows every sign of being a topological superconductor, as are other spin-triplet superconductors, Butch added. Its topological properties suggest it could be a particularly accurate and robust component in the quantum computers of the future.
+ “The discovery of this Lazarus superconductivity at record-high fields is among the most important discoveries to emerge from this lab in its 25-year history,” said NHMFL Director Greg Boebinger. “I would not be surprised if unraveling the mysteries of uranium ditelluride leads to even stranger manifestations of superconductivity in the future.”
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