Etch-a-Sketch method used for precision superconductors -

Researchers have developed a new method to create superconducting circuits, drawing them out Etch-a-Sketch style.

A group of scientists at the UCL London Centre for Nanotechnology and the Physics Department of Sapienza University of Rome were able manipulate superconducting materials on a minute scale – opening possibilities for a new generation of electronic devices.

Superconducting materials offer exciting possibilities for electronics, operating in a special state where electricity is conducted without any resistance whatsoever.  This means that there is zero wasted energy.

While this usually occurs at temperatures nearer to absolute zero, developments have brought about ‘high’ temperature superconductors.  The researchers created such a superconductor by combining oxygen, copper, and rare earth material lanthanum.

An X-ray beam is then used to draw two dimensional shapes in the material like a pen by manipulating the oxygen atoms. 

This means that it is possible to write superconductors in minute detail, less than the width of a human hair. 

Furthermore it means that chemicals are no longer needed in any such process, with the etch-a-sketch movement of oxygen atoms sufficient for the fabrication process.

According to professor Aeppli at the LCN, this means that there are “exciting new possibilities” for electronics devices, particularly with the re-writing of superconductor logic circuits.

Aeppli also reckons it will help solve the age old ‘travelling salesman problem’.