The high Tc superconductivity community has been abuzz lately with the discovery of a growing number of iron-based materials that remain superconducting at temperatures as high as 55 K.
The first such material (fluorine-doped LaOFeAs) was reported by physicists in Japan earlier this year and has a transition temperature (Tc) of 26 K. Since then, researchers in China replaced the lanthanum (La) with samarium (Sm) and boosted Tc to 55 K. The Japanese team, meanwhile, put their material under pressure and increased Tc to 43 K.
Now, just as physicists are beginning to understand the mechanism behind these iron-based materials, scientists in Russia have come up with a new twist by replacing iron with nickel. They found that fluorine-doped LaONiBi is a superconductor with a Tc of 4K.
While this Tc is much lower than the iron-based materials, the team reports that LaONiBi has very similar structural and electronic properties as its iron-based cousins. This suggests that with a bit of fiddling with doping levels and other properties, the Tc could be boosted considerably.