Scientists solve superconductor conundrum

A building at MITMicroprocessors using superconducting circuits can be 50 to 100 times more energy efficient and faster than Intel chips but obstacles have prevented the dream being realised. Yet.

Now MIT researchers claim to have developed a circuit design that will make superconducting devices cheaper to manufacture using so-called Josephson junctions.  MIT said chips using these junctions clock at 770GHz – that’s pretty fast, folks.

Adam McCaughan and Professor Karl Berggren have dubbed their circuit the nanocryotron.

McCaughan said that the world has seen devices come and go without real world applications.  “We have already applied our device to applications that will be highly relevant to future work in superconducting computing and quantum communications,” he claimed.

The cool thing about superconductors is they don’t have any electrical resistance. When electrons trundle along copper wires or circuits in regular chips, they tend to keep bumping against atoms and that generates energy, that is to say heat.

The good Professor’s lab uses superconducting circuits made from niobium nitride, operating at the rather chilly temperature of minus 257 degrees Celsius.  The scientists are experimenting with liquid helium.  “Superconducting computation would let data centres dispense with the cooling systems they currently use to keep their banks of servers from overheating.”