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“Unveiling the Mysteries of Superconductivity: Tokyo Tech’s Breakthrough in Detecting Fluctuations”

A research team from the Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) has achieved a significant breakthrough by successfully detecting weak fluctuations in superconductivity, a phenomenon preceding superconductivity itself. This milestone, accomplished through precise measurements of the thermoelectric effect in superconductors across a wide range of magnetic fields and temperatures, sheds light on the behavior of superconductivity concerning temperature and magnetic field variations. The findings elucidate the enigmatic anomalous metallic state observed in magnetic fields, a longstanding puzzle in the realm of two-dimensional superconductivity, for over three decades.

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Background Tokyo Tech:

Superconductors, materials exhibiting zero electrical resistance at low temperatures, Tokyo Tech play pivotal roles in various applications, including powerful electromagnets for medical MRI and quantum computers’ logic elements operating at cryogenic temperatures. Atomically thin two-dimensional superconductors, due to their susceptibility to fluctuations, display distinct properties compared to bulkier counterparts. Understanding these fluctuations, whether thermal (classical) at higher temperatures or quantum at very low temperatures, is crucial. The interplay between fluctuations gives rise to intriguing phenomena, such as the magnetic field-induced superconductor-insulator transition, which has been studied extensively. However, the anomalous metallic state observed in two-dimensional superconductors has remained elusive in terms of its origin.

Research Results:

Utilizing molybdenum-germanium thin films, a two-dimensional superconductor Tokyo Tech  with an amorphous structure, the research team conducted thermoelectric effect measurements to detect superconducting fluctuations. By observing the voltage generated perpendicular to the temperature gradient, they discerned fluctuations in superconductivity and magnetic flux line motion distinctly. Remarkably, the study revealed that superconducting fluctuations persist across a broad temperature-magnetic field range, extending beyond the conventional superconducting phase. Significantly, the detection of the crossover line between thermal and quantum fluctuations, marking a quantum critical point, elucidates the origin of the anomalous metallic state observed in two-dimensional superconductors.

Social Impact:

The insights gained from thermoelectric effect measurements provide valuable data for understanding superconducting fluctuations, essential for various applications, including electric cooling systems. Furthermore, the study opens avenues for investigating anomalously large thermoelectric effects in specific superconductors, offering insights into their underlying mechanisms.

Future Development:

Future endeavors aim to explore theoretical predictions concerning quantum condensed states in two-dimensional superconductors with stronger localization effects. By deploying similar experimental methods, researchers seek to detect these states, advancing our understanding of quantum phenomena in superconductors.

This groundbreaking study, published in Nature Communications, marks a significant step forward in unraveling the mysteries of superconductivity, contributing to the advancement of both fundamental science and practical applications. As Tokyo Tech continues to pioneer research at the forefront of science and technology, its contributions promise to shape the future landscape of scientific inquiry and technological innovation.

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