Well, commonly titanium dioxide means white paints of tennis courts, whiteners. Other than painting in tennis courts they are commonly used in sunscreens and paints.
But now this has been the topic of very serious analysis and research, as this has been considered the next new member of the family of superconductor electronics. Those which have a higher density of titanium and oxygen atom are the main interest of the scientists.
Scientists of Tokyo Tech have reported that titanium dioxide in an ultra-thin film plate is showing characteristics of a superconductor. They are astounded to see the film with 120-nanometre thickness is showing properties which need to be observed thoroughly.
Insulator turned conductor
Kohei Yoshimatsu, the lead author of their report has explained that they are successful in making thin films using Ti4O7 and y-Ti3O5. His report has been published in Scientific Reports. He explained that as these materials are observed in bulk amount, their characteristics appeared different earlier.
They behaved like insulators. This is why their work of making thin films of these substances which are electrically conductive is a major breakthrough in the field of electronics as well as physics.
The researchers observed that the superconductivity of these substances grows to its fullest at 3.0K. Yoshimatsu said that reaching 7.1K for a common metal oxide is considered an amazing phenomenon. This is why they are highest known.
Their thin film is basically a well-aligned crystalline structure, which is very hard to derive. They used much simpler material Ti2O3 in place of normal titanium dioxide.
Then under controlled atmospheric condition change the Ti4O7 and y-Ti3O5 started to grow layer by layer like a sapphire structure. This process is termed as pulse-laser deposition.
Comments from researchers
The most important thing is that researchers are still not sure how the superconductivity arrived in this film. They assume that maybe the irregular arrangement of the oxygen atoms is the important cause of it.
As per Yoshimatsu, the oxygen vacancy is reduced to one, which cannot stay stable in a bulk form. In the thin film structure, the generation of free electrons is helping the oxygen vacancies to grow superconductivity.
He added more information and research is needed to explain this phenomenon. He emphasized that this is a new breakthrough to a new era of superconductivity.
Along with that, he added that how materials like titanium dioxide can show superconductivity in a thin film while in a bulk amount it is like any other insulator is a matter of further research.