A superinsulator is a material that at low temperatures under certain conditions has an infinite resistance and no current will pass through it. The superinsulating state has many parallels to the superconducting state, and can be destroyed (in a sudden phase transition) by increased temperature, magnetic fields and voltage.
The superinsulating state was first observed in a titanium nitride film in April 2008 by Russian scientists Valerii Vinokur and Tatyana Baturina working at Argonne National Laboratory, United States. Currently it is not known if the superinsulation state they observed means the dielectric permittivity of the material approaches infinity, or whether the material just has zero conduction as would be found in a vacuum.
Both superconductivity and superinsulation are caused by the pairing of conduction electrons at low temperatures into Cooper pairs. In superconductors, all the pairs move in unison, allowing current without resistance. In superinsulators the Cooper pairs avoid each other, preventing current from flowing.
Superinsulators could potentially be used to create batteries that do not lose charge when not in use. Combined with superconductors, superinsulators could be used to create electrical circuits with no energy lost as heat.
It has been suggested by several authors that the "superinsulator" may not be a fundamentally new state of solid, but is rather caused due to the non-equilibrium heating of the electrons with respect to the phonons at low temperatures. This notion gets support from the fact that the jump in the current-voltage characteristics, a hallmark of the superinsulating state, is also observed in other systems, such as YxSi1−x, where no known superconducting correlations exist.
- Valerii M. Vinokur, Tatyana I. Baturina, Mikhail V. Fistul, Aleksey Yu. Mironov, Mikhail R. Baklanov & Christoph Strunk (2008). "Superinsulator and quantum synchronization" (PDF). Nature. 452 (7187): 613–615. Bibcode:2008Natur.452..613V. doi:10.1038/nature06837. PMID 18385735.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- Ovadia, M.; Sacépé, B.; Shahar, D. (2009). "Electron-Phonon Decoupling in Disordered Insulators". Physical Review Letters. 102 (17). doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.102.176802. PMID 19518807.
- M. Ovadia; B. Sacépé & D. Shahar (2009). "Electron-Phonon Decoupling in Disordered Insulators". Physical Review Letters. 102 (17): 176802. Bibcode:2009PhRvL.102q6802O. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.102.176802. PMID 19518807.
- Boris L. Altshuler; Vladimir E. Kravtsov; Igor V. Lerner & Igor L. Aleiner (2009). "Jumps in Current-Voltage Characteristics in Disordered Films". Physical Review Letters. 102 (17): 176803. arXiv:0810.4312. Bibcode:2009PhRvL.102q6803A. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.102.176803. PMID 19518808.
- F. Ladieu; M. Sanquer & J. P. Bouchaud (1996). "Depinning transition in Mott-Anderson insulators". Physical Review B. 53 (3): 973–976. Bibcode:1996PhRvB..53..973L. doi:10.1103/PhysRevB.53.973.
- Vinokur, Valerii M.; Baturina, Tatyana I.; Fistul, Mikhail V.; Mironov, Aleksey Yu.; Baklanov, Mikhail R.; Strunk, Christoph (2008). "Superinsulator and quantum synchronization" (PDF). Nature. Springer Science and Business Media LLC. 452 (7187): 613–615. doi:10.1038/nature06837. ISSN 0028-0836.
- K. B. Efetov; M. V. Feigel'man; P. B. Wiegmann (31 Jul 2008). "Comment on Superinsulator and Quantum Synchronization". arXiv:0804.3775.
- Levi Beckerson (10 Apr 2008). "Superinsulator, New State of Matter Observed". DailyTech. Archived from the original on 3 May 2016. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- Argonne National Laboratory (4 Apr 2008). "Newly discovered 'superinsulators' promise to transform materials research, electronics design". Argonne National Laboratory. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
- Argonne National Laboratory (9 Apr 2008). "Newly Discovered Fundamental State Of Matter, A Superinsulator, Has Been Created". Science News. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
- Jon Cartwright (2 Apr 2008). "Physicists discover the 'superinsulator'". Physicsworld. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
- Saswato R. Das (26 Feb 2010). "Scientists Solve Mystery of Superinsulators". IEEE Spectrum. Retrieved 31 May 2019.