Andrea Cavalleri, Oxford University, UK, and co-workers have used light to turn a normal insulator into a superconductor.
A strong infrared laser pulse was used to perturb the positions of some of the atoms in the cuprate material. The compound, La1.675Eu0.2Sr0.125CuO4, was held at 20 K, and, on application of the pulse, almost instantaneously became a superconductor for a fraction of a second, before relaxing back to its normal state.
The researchers hope this could offer a new route to obtaining superconductivity at higher temperatures. If superconductors that work at room temperature could be achieved, it would open up many more technological applications.
- Light-Induced Superconductivity in a Stripe-Ordered Cuprate
D. Fausti, R. I. Tobey, N. Dean, S. Kaiser, A. Dienst, M. C. Hoffmann, S. Pyon, T. Takayama, H. Takagi, A. Cavalleri,
Science 2011, 331(6014), 189-191.