London, June 24 : A group of researchers has developed a technique, which controls the number of electrons on the surface of high-temperature superconductors - a procedure considered impossible for the past two decades.
The University of British Columbia team, led by Physics Assoc. Prof. Andrea Damascelli, deposited potassium atoms onto the surface of a piece of superconducting copper oxide.
The approach allows the scientists to continuously manipulate the number of electrons on ultra-thin layers of material.
Superconductivity - the phenomenon of conducting electricity with no resistance - occurs in some materials at very low temperatures.
High-temperature superconductors are a class of materials capable of conducting electricity with little or no resistance in temperatures as high as -140 degrees Celsius.
"The development of future electronics, such as quantum computer chips, hinges on extremely thin layers of material," Nature quoted Damascelli, Canada Research Chair in the Electronic Structure of Solids, as saying.
"Extremely thin layers and surfaces of superconducting materials take on very different properties from the rest of the material. Electrons have been observed to re-arrange, making it impossible for scientists to study," says Damascelli.
"The new technique opens the door to systematic studies not just of high-temperature superconductors, but many other materials where surfaces and interfaces control the physical properties," says Damascelli.
The study is published in the journal Nature Physics.