PhD project: New superconductors with a twist

Project description

Vortices are topologically protected stable structures. In type II superconductors they allow magentic flux to penetrate in multiples of the flux quantum. One of the holy grails of current research into exotic types of superconductivity is to discover materials that support half-quantum vortices. This requires odd-parity superconductivity that has an extra degree of freedom represented by a vector that is free to rotate (physically the direction of gives the direction along which the spin of the Cooper pairs in an odd parity superconducting state is zero). Such Vortices are expected to have interesting quantum statistics that may be harnessed to build a quantum computer that is topologically protected from decoherence. The project would look for such states in carefully selected candidate materials. To get these forms of superconductivity the materials have to be extremely pure and novel apparatus for SSE (solid state electrotransport) will be used to acheive this. One of the materials that we are currently investigating shows interesting magnetic properties related to geometric frustration and low dimensionality. The next stage and the goal of the project is to see if we indeed find superconductivity under pressure or if something else happens. The low-temperature properties of this and other candidate materials will then be characterised to determine the symmetry of the superconducting order parameter to assess whether it might support 1/2 quantum vortices. Finally attempts would be made to detect 1/2 quanta vortices in mesoscopic samples. The project will be centred on low temperature measurements but also involve growing single crystals and some experiments at central facilities to characterise magnetic structures and excitations.

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