Quantum alchemy: a new route to superconductivity


Despite over a century of research to understand superconductivity, we are far from being able to predict superconducting materials and to create them by design. Our group’s strategy to create new superconductors is to start with carefully selected non-superconductors with characteristics conducive for superconductivity, we then apply external forces such as high pressures to these selected materials to modify their electronic properties and transform them into new superconductors.

Looking for patterns in known superconductors and comparisons with theory reveal important ingredients for superconductivity incluing magnetism, insulating or poorly conducting behavior, and a low dimensional crystal structure. The iron-based parent antiferromagnets fit these selection criteria – we made the discovery that applying pressures of the order of 50 kbar transforms these rather conventional materials into exceptional 40 K superconductors.

Superconductivity up to 29 K in SrFe2As2 and BaFe2As2 at high pressures
Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter 21, 012208 (2009)
[Thomson Reuters Essential Science Indicators’ 1% Most Highly Cited Papers]
Patricia L. Alireza, Y. T. Chris Ko,  Jack Gillett, Chiara M. Petrone, Jacqueline M. Cole, Gilbert G. Lonzarich and Suchitra E. Sebastian


Research highlights

Suchitra Sebastian


01223 850481

Siân Dutton


01223 764159

Cavendish Laboratory,

19 J J Thomson Avenue,

Maxwell Center