Sunday, January 05, 2020

Brief items

Happy new year.  As we head into 2020, here are a few links I've been meaning to point out:

  • This paper is a topical review of high-throughput (sometimes called combinatorial) approaches to searching for new superconductors.   The basic concept is simple enough:  co-deposit multiple different elements in a way that deliberately produces compositional gradients across the target substrate.  This can be done via geometry of deposition, or with stencils that move during the deposition process.  Then characterize the local properties in an efficient way across the various compositional gradients, looking for the target properties you want (e.g., maximum superconducting transition temperature).  Ideally, you combine this with high-throughput structural characterization and even annealing or other post-deposition treatment.  Doing all of this well in practice is a craft.  
  • Calling back to my post on this topic, Scientific American has an article about wealth distribution based on statistical mechanics-like models of economies.   It's hard for me to believe that some of these insights are really "new" - seems like many of these models could have been examined decades ago....
  • This is impressive.  Jason Petta's group at Princeton has demonstrated controlled entanglement between single-electron spins in Si/SiGe gate-defined quantum dots separated by 4 mm.  That may not sound all that exciting; one could use photons to entangle atoms separated by km, as has been done with optical fiber.  However, doing this on-chip using engineered quantum dots (with gates for tunable control) in an arrangement that is in principle scalable via microfabrication techniques is a major achievement.
  • Just in case you needed another demonstration that correlated materials like the copper oxide superconductors are complicated, here you go.  These investigators use an approach based on density functional theory (see here, here, and here), and end up worrying about energetic competition between 26 different electronic/magnetic phases.  Regardless of the robustness of their specific conclusions, just that tells you the inherent challenge of those systems:  Many possible ordered states all with very similar energy scales.


Anonymous said...

Concerning high-throughput structural characterization, do you have any paper/people recommendations?

Douglas Natelson said...

Anon, it's not really my area of expertise. One broad article is this review ( that has some references in it. As far as I know, the mainstay for high-throughput structure is some flavor of micro-beam x-ray diffraction - not a new idea ( Here is a recent review article about this and other micro/nanoscale x-ray techniques: