Self assembling superconductor research provides new mechanisms for superconducting structures and composite materials with novel properties

02/02/2016 - 16:44

Tom Fleischman

Building on nearly two decades’ worth of research, a multidisciplinary team at Cornell has blazed a new trail by creating a self-assembled, three-dimensional gyroidal superconductor.

Ulrich Wiesner, the Spencer T. Olin Professor of Engineering, led the group, which included researchers in engineering, chemistry and physics.


Ref: Block copolymer self-assembly–directed synthesis of mesoporous gyroidal superconductors. Science Advances (29 January 2016) | DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501119 | PDF (Open Access)


Superconductors with periodically ordered mesoporous structures are expected to have properties very different from those of their bulk counterparts. Systematic studies of such phenomena to date are sparse, however, because of a lack of versatile synthetic approaches to such materials. We demonstrate the formation of three-dimensionally continuous gyroidal mesoporous niobium nitride (NbN) superconductors from chiral ABC triblock terpolymer self-assembly–directed sol-gel–derived niobium oxide with subsequent thermal processing in air and ammonia gas. Superconducting materials exhibit a critical temperature (Tc) of about 7 to 8 K, a flux exclusion of about 5% compared to a dense NbN solid, and an estimated critical current density (Jc) of 440 A cm−2 at 100 Oe and 2.5 K. We expect block copolymer self-assembly–directed mesoporous superconductors to provide interesting subjects for mesostructure-superconductivity correlation studies.