IISER Mohali physicists’ discovery published in noted science journal

  • Bhartesh Singh Thakur, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Nov 08, 2015 10:02 IST
(From L-R): Abhishek Gaurav, Leena Aggarwal, Goutam Sheet.

A team of physicists at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Mohali, has discovered a new unconventional superconducting phase at -265 degree Celsius.

The research paper was published in Nature Materials, a high impact journal and a sister publication of the Nature on November 2.

Though it was theoretically predicted that such an exotic state was possible, it has been experimentally observed for the first time.

The first two contributing authors of the paper, Leena Aggarwal, 32, of Jalandhar, and Abhishek Gaurav, 22, from Patna, were working on the project when Gaurav was just a post graduate student and Aggarwal was a research assistant at IISER, Mohali.

Aggarwal has recently enrolled in PhD course at IISER, Mohali, while Gaurav is perusing PhD from IISER, Pune.

“The research is extremely important for understanding relativistic quantum mechanics in condensed matter systems.Since the newly-discovered phase is believed to host novel particles called Majorana Fermions, it might have far reaching applications for fault-tolerant quantum computing and information processing,” said Goutam Sheet, assistant professor of physics, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali, who led the project.


In everyday life, power transmission in electricity wires is not efficient as these wires offer some resistance to the flow of current leading to heating and thus wastage of energy. But the class of materials called superconductors offers zero resistance to the current’s flow.

However, superconductivity so far had been attained at extremely low temperatures and hence couldn’t be realised in daily life but scientists continue to experiment with different materials for that exotic material that may be handy in solving some of our technological problems.

The IISER, Mohali, research team made microscopic contacts of pure silver on a novel material cadmium arsenide, prepared at IIT Delhi by the group of professor Ashok Ganguli, director of Indian Nano Science and Technology (INST), SAS Nagar, and discovered that the point of contact behaved like a superconductor.

“Interestingly, neither silver nor cadmium arsenide are superconducting on their own; but their junction becomes one,” said Sheet.The superconducting phase was achieved at -265 degree Celsius. Though it is low as compared to the temperature at everyday life, it is high when compared to the temperature encountered in the study of superconductors.

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