The Casimir effect in layered superconductors

Big question

Much is known about high temperature superconductors but little is known about their energetics. Why is it energetically favorable for electrons to team up to form Cooper pairs? This question is important because the answer could tell us how the transition temperature of superconductors can be raised further and if room temperature superconductivity will ever be possible.

Basic idea

At the 10th Marcel Grossmann meeting in Rio de Janeiro in 2003 I introduced the idea that the condensation energy of high temperature superconductors arises from their layering, namely through the Casimir effect, (see section 5 of the proceedings paper (PDF)). While the predictions from my ansatz are in the right order of magnitude, more work needs to be done to make precision comparisons between theory and experiment. A solid prediction of my ansatz is that to increase Tc, one needs to make materials which in the superconducting state consist of very closely spaced superconducting layers separated by low-conductivity layers, and which in the normal state are of very low conductivity in all layers.

Selected publication

  • A. Kempf, On the Casimir Effect in the High Tc Cuprates, J. Phys. A41, 164038 (2008)