Princeton researchers –using new nanoscale imaging techniques they developed — have discovered that patches of superconductivity can exist in ceramic superconductors at higher temperatures than previously thought.

This finding, reported in the current issue of Nature, might help lead to superconducting materials that could open up new frontiers in the power industry.

“If we could raise the critical temperature by making the sample more homogeneous, then superconductivity’s application to day-to-day technologies, such as power grids, becomes much more realistic,” said Mike Norman, a physicist in Argonne National Laboratory’s Materials Science Division, who was not affiliated with the research. “The nice thing with superconductors is that there is no power loss, so they could be a major player in ‘green’ and ‘efficient’ technologies for power transmission.”

The senior author of the paper is Ali Yazdani, professor of physics at Princeton. The National Science Foundation funded this work through a grant from its Division of Materials Research and its support of the Princeton Center for Complex Materials. Chad Boutin offers a full report on the work here.

Image: Yazdani Group