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March 15, 2010

Controlling the Distribution of Dopants at the Nanoscale Could Get Superconductors Closer to Room Temperature

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Physical Review Letters - Nanoscale Proximity Effect in the High-Temperature Superconductor Bi2Sr2CaCu2O8þ Using a Scanning Tunneling Microscope

High-temperature cuprate superconductors exhibit extremely local nanoscale phenomena and strong sensitivity to doping. While other experiments have looked at nanoscale interfaces between layers of different dopings, we focus on the interplay between naturally inhomogeneous nanoscale regions. Using scanning tunneling microscopy to carefully track the same region of the sample as a function of temperature, we show that regions with weak superconductivity can persist to elevated temperatures if bordered by regions of strong superconductivity. This suggests that it may be possible to increase the maximum possible transition temperature by controlling the distribution of dopants.



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