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Tiny Quantum Vortices in Superconductors Discovered

A new study by KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Stanford University revises of our understanding of quantum vortices in superconductors. Pictured, an artist’s depiction of quantum vortices. (Illustration: Greg Stewart, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

An international research team has discovered a new type of superconducting vortex within quantum vortices in superconductors. These quantum vortices, also known as little tornadoes of electrons, were previously believed to carry one quantum of magnetic flux each. However, the researchers found that the magnetic flux produced by these vortices can be divided into a wider range of values than previously thought. The discovery challenges previous theories of superconductivity and has potential applications in superconducting electronics. The research team used the Superconducting Quantum Interference Device (SQUID) to observe and manipulate these fractional quantum vortices. The robustness and controllability of quantum vortices suggest potential applications in superconducting computers.

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