Washington, April 9 : Scientists have created 'superinsulators', which are a newly discovered fundamental state of matter that might break ground for a new generation of microelectronics.
The materials were created by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory in collaboration with several European institutions.
Led by Argonne senior scientist Valerii Vinokur and Russian scientist Tatyana Baturina, an international team of scientists from Argonne, Germany, Russia and Belgium fashioned a thin film of titanium nitride, which they then chilled to near absolute zero.
When they tried to pass a current through the material, the researchers noticed that its resistance suddenly increased by a factor of 100,000 once the temperature dropped below a certain threshold.
The same sudden change also occurred when the researchers decreased the external magnetic field.
Like superconductors, which have applications in many different areas of physics, from accelerators to magnetic-levitation (maglev) trains to MRI machines, superinsulators could eventually find their way into a number of products, including circuits, sensors and battery shields.
According to Vinokur, "Titanium nitride films, as well as films prepared from some other materials, can be either superconductors or insulators depending on the thickness of the film."
"If you take the film which is just on the insulating side of the transition and decrease the temperature or magnetic field, then the film all of a sudden becomes a superinsulator," he added.
Scientists could eventually form superinsulators that would encapsulate superconducting wires, creating an optimally efficient electrical pathway with almost no energy lost as heat.