The discovery of triplet spin superconductivity in diamonds has the potential to revolutionise the high-tech industry. — ScienceDaily

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Diamonds have a firm foothold in our lexicon. Their many properties often serve as superlatives for quality, clarity and hardiness. Aside from the popularity of this rare material in ornamental and decorative use, these precious stones are also highly valued in industry where they are used to cut and polish other hard materials and build radiation detectors.

More than a decade ago, a new property was uncovered in diamonds when high concentrations of boron are introduced to it — superconductivity. Superconductivity occurs when two electrons with opposite spin form a pair (called a Cooper pair), resulting in the electrical resistance of the material being zero. This means a large supercurrent can flow in the material, bringing with it the potential for advanced technological applications. Yet, little work has been done since to investigate and characterise the nature of a diamond’s superconductivity and therefore its potential applications.

New research led by Professor Somnath Bhattacharyya in the Nano-Scale Transport Physics Laboratory (NSTPL) in the School of Physics at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, details the phenomenon of what is called “triplet superconductivity” in diamond. Triplet superconductivity occurs when electrons move in a composite spin state rather than as a single pair. This is an extremely rare, yet efficient form of superconductivity that until now has only been known to occur in one or two other materials, and only theoretically in diamonds.

“In a conventional superconducting material such as aluminium, superconductivity is destroyed by magnetic fields and magnetic impurities, however triplet superconductivity in a diamond can exist even when combined with magnetic materials. This leads to more efficient and multifunctional operation of the material,” explains Bhattacharyya.

The team’s work has recently been published in an article in the New Journal of Physics, titled “Effects of Rashba-spin-orbit coupling on