The FLATOPS project by Dr. Sebastiano Peotta, from the Department of Applied Physics, is motivated by the century-old quest to bring superconductivity, the most dramatic manifestation of quantum coherence on macroscopic scales, into our daily lives. This can be achieved only if materials that demonstrate superconductivity at high enough temperatures can be engineered and synthesized.
'In my opinion the physics that is strongly tied to practical outcomes is often the most interesting and beautiful. Of course room-temperature superconductivity is a far-fetched goal, but even a partial solution to this problem has far-reaching implications for condensed matter physics,' says Peotta.
The fundamental question addressed in the project is: what limits does nature impose on the highest possible temperature of the superconducting transition? In previous works, Professors Grigory Volovik, Nikolai Kopnin and Tero Heikkilä at Aalto found that in certain materials where electrons have an extremely high effective mass (in the condensed-matter jargon, “flat bands”) the superconducting critical temperature is dramatically enhanced. Dr. Peotta and Professor Päivi Törmä, who is hosting the project in her Quantum Dynamics research group, aim at understanding this phenomenon in full generality, without reference to specific materials. Some of the research ideas of the project were inspired by Peotta and Törmä’s recent results that showed a connection between flat band superconductivity and quantum geometry.
'Our approach is motivated by recent advances in the field of ultracold atoms. These systems consist of atoms trapped by lasers in vacuum and can be used to simulate actual solid-state materials or even models that have no counterpart in a solid state. An important goal of my project is to assist teams working with ultracold gases in providing an experimental proof-of-principle of the flat-band mechanism of high-temperature superconductivity. This would be an essential milestone for further experiments with solid-state systems. We have ongoing collaborations with ultracold gases groups in Switzerland and Japan that are very promising. The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship will, without doubt, boost the success rate of the project.'
The funding is intended to support the mobility of researchers in particular.
‘The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowships are awarded to post-doctoral researchers that move to a new country to complement their research skills. In my case, I am from Italy, and was living in the United States before moving to Finland. However, I was already working at Aalto when I applied for this funding,’ says Peotta.
The MSC Fellowship is a part of the Horizon 2020 framework programme.
See also: The Department of Applied Physics.
Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA) fund cross-border and cross-sectoral researcher mobility. The MSCA belong to the Excellent Science pillar of the three pillars of H2020. Funding is granted for all stages of a research career and to all fields of research. In the H2020 programme, Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions will be the most important EU programme funding doctoral training. The central requirement of Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions is mobility between countries.
Horizon 2020 is the EU's Framework Programme for Research and Innovation for 2014–2020. Horizon is the successor to the EU's seventh framework programme, and it provides nearly €80 billion of funding for European research and innovation projects between 2014 and 2020.