For the first time, scientists have a clearer understanding of how to control the appearance of a superconducting phase in a material, adding crucial fundamental knowledge and perhaps setting the stage for advances in the field of superconductivity.
The paper, published in Physical Review Letters, focuses on a calcium-iron-arsenide single crystal, which has structural, thermodynamic, and transport properties that can be varied through carefully controlled synthesis, similar to the application of pressure. To make this discovery, researchers focused on how these changes alter the material’s Fermi surface, which maps the specific population and arrangement of electrons in materials.
“The Fermi surface is basically the ‘genetic code’ for causing a certain property, including superconductivity, in a material,” said Athena Safa-Sefat of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which led the research team. “We can make different phases of this material in single crystal forms and measure their structure and properties, but now we have Fermi surface signatures that explain why we can’t induce superconductivity in a certain structural phase of this material.” [Read more…]