Superconductivity, the ability of certain materials to conduct an electric current without resistance, has long been sought after for its potential in various technological applications. Researchers have been exploring different strategies to enhance the superconductivity of specific materials, including K3C60, an organic superconductor that exhibits zero resistance when exposed to mid-infrared optical pulses. A team of physicists and material scientists from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter, Università degli Studi di Parma, and the University of Oxford have made significant advancements in this field. They have identified a novel approach to enhance light-induced superconductivity in K3C60, increasing its photo-susceptibility by two orders of magnitude.
Over the past decade, the research team, led by Andrea Cavalleri, has been investigating the superconductivity of K3C60. Their previous experiments demonstrated the superconducting phase of this material using excitation photon energies between 80 and 165 meV (20–40 THz). In their newest study, the team aimed to explore lower energy excitation between 24 and 80 meV (6–20 THz), which was previously inaccessible. To achieve this, they utilized a terahertz source capable of generating narrow-bandwidth pulses by combining near-infrared signal beams. This approach allowed them to target specific molecular vibrations that amplify at resonance frequencies, thus enhancing the pairing and coherence responsible for superconductivity.
Although the underlying physics is still not fully understood, the recent study provides insights into the mechanisms behind photo-induced superconductivity in K3C60 and potentially other superconductors. By identifying a molecular vibration that works particularly well at 10 THz, the team has made important progress in elucidating these mechanisms. The driven vibrations appear to couple with electronic states, enhancing the pairing and coherence necessary for superconductivity. This discovery opens up new possibilities for prolonging photo-induced superconductivity, which could have profound implications for the development of light-driven quantum technologies.
One of the key achievements of this research is the realization of a long-lived superconducting state at room temperature, lasting for up to 10 nanoseconds. This breakthrough opens up exciting possibilities for future quantum devices powered by light. By harnessing and prolonging the photo-induced superconductivity in K3C60, researchers could pave the way for the development of highly efficient, light-driven quantum technologies. This has the potential to revolutionize various fields, such as computing, communication, and energy storage.
The recent study conducted by the Max Planck Institute, Università degli Studi di Parma, and the University of Oxford marks a significant milestone in advancing superconductivity research. By identifying a strategy to enhance light-induced superconductivity in K3C60, the team has boosted the material’s photo-susceptibility by two orders of magnitude. This research sheds new light on the mechanisms underlying photo-induced superconductivity and introduces the possibility of prolonging this state for longer periods of time. Ultimately, these findings have the potential to shape the future of quantum technologies powered by light, opening up a new frontier in the realm of superconductivity and its applications.