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November 26, 2007

Cooper pairs make superinsulators as well as superconductors

A Brown University researcher, James Valles, claims to have discovered Cooper pairs in superinsulators that, when cooled near absolute zero, offer infinite resistance--acting as perfect blocks to conduction. Superinsulators may someday be wired together with superconductors to create supercircuits that generate zero heat.

The researchers are currently developing a theory to rival the theory of superconductivity while also explaining the workings of superinsulators. So far, the researchers theorize that when acting as a superinsulator, Cooper pairs are locked together rather than linking into chains. The holes in the bismuth template enabled the locked pairs to be detected as they spun segregated into tiny whirlpools, according to the researchers.

Next, the Brown researchers hope to create superinsulators for superconducting wires that resist heating. If superinsulators can be perfected for wires, the next step could be their integration to circuitry alongside superconductors.

For instance, Josephson junctions work by separating two superconducting metals with an insulator. New types of devices harnessing the quantum effects of a material with infinite resistance, could also be crafted from superinsulators, according to the researchers.

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