Magic adhesive enables high-temperature superconductivity

A superconductor is a material that can transmit electricity with perfect efficiency. Semiconductors also transmit electricity, just not as well, but they work at room temperature. Getting these two materials to play with each other was exceedingly difficult, until someone had the idea of trying Scotch tape. Magic, indeed.

When talking about high-temperature superconductivity, scientists have a fairly liberal definition of what constitutes "high-temperature." In this case, it's something that's warmer than absolute zero by more than a few degrees. The highest temperature that superconductors have been made to bond with semiconductors (using some sort of absurdly complex material growth procedures and fabricating devices) was -418 degrees F, a scant 41 degrees above absolute zero.

This new technique, developed by physicists at the University of Toronto, enables semiconductors to bond with superconductors (and consequently exhibit superconducting properties themselves) at a mere -321 degrees F. This is still a bit nippy, but it's a full factor of ten warmer than before. They got it to work by bonding a compound of iron, copper and oxygen (called a cuprate) to a special type of semiconductor called a topological insulator. And when we say "bonding," we mean that they used some double-sided Scotch tape with a glass microscope slide in the middle. And somehow, it worked, and the semiconductor started superconducting at a higher temperature than had ever been seen before, which could enable new techniques for construction quantum computers.

So my question now is, who exactly decided that "our absurdly complex material growth procedures and fabricating devices aren't working well enough, let's try Scotch tape instead," and were they drunk on fermented maple syrup at the time? In either case, way to set the bar absurdly high for everyone else trying to do physics: "you guys need how much for a supercollider? Some dudes in Toronto got their experiment to work with a piece of tape!"

Nature, via Eurekalert

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