African Journal of Physics Vol.4, 2011.

1. 100 YEARS OF SUPERCONDUCTIVITY: THE CONTRIBUTIONS AND CHALLENGES OF RESEARCHERS IN NIGERIA†
O. Abah1, A.O.E. Animalu1, G.C. Asomba1, O.A. Ogbuu2, C.M.I. Okoye1, O. Umeh3. Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria.2Department of Material Science and Engineering, University of Delaware, U.S.A. and 3Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa.
1 1

Email: abahobinna@gmail.com

Abstract We present a brief overview of contributions of researchers who are working in the area of superconductivity in Nigeria and show how, despite various challenges; superconductivity research has recorded some progress through interdisciplinary approach. We also pointed out areas where national and international partnership may be required for sustaining the effort in the future.

Keywords: High-Tc superconductivity, pseudopotentials, iso-superconductivity. PACs No. 74.20,±.z, 74.20.Mn, 02.20.Sv

†African Journal of Physics Vol.4, pp. 1-13, (2011) ISSN: PRINT: 1948-0229 CD ROM:1948-0245 ONLINE: 1948-0237 1

African Journal of Physics Vol.4, 2011.

1. BACKGROUND This year, the superconductivity community all over the world is celebrating the centenary anniversary for the discovery of superconductivity by Heike Kamerlingh Onnes in a laboratory in Leiden, Netherlands on April 8, 1911 [1]. This discovery has lead to one of the most vibrant areas of research and development in physics in the past 100 years. Superconductivity is the name given to the state of zero resistance to the flow of electrical currents in a given material. Heike stumbled on this phenomenon while studying the electrical resistivity of various materials among which was mercury, at very low temperature. In the process, he noticed a sudden disappearance of resistivity of mercury at liquid helium temperature (4.2 0 K). Two years later in 1913, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for the liquefaction of helium and the study of matter at low temperatures. To date, five Nobel prizes [2 - 5] have been awarded for different significant aspects of research results in the field of superconductivity. Soon after Onnes’s discovery, many researchers in different countries went into action and discovered many other materials that exhibited superconductivity at a characteristic temperature called the transition temperature, T c. The objective has always been to exploit the great potential for practical applications of superconductors. Twenty two years after Heike discovery, Walther Meissner and Robert Ochsenfeld [6] studied how superconductors would behave under the influence of an external magnetic field. They found that when a superconductor in the presence of magnetic field is cooled below its transition temperature, the magnetic flux is expelled from the interior of the superconducting sample. This magnetic flux exclusion, subsequently called the Meissner-Ochenfeld effect, opened up a potential application of superconductors in levitation trains which could substantially reduce energy loss due to friction. It took another 45 years after this discovery for theoretical physicists to find the basic mechanism of superconductivity in metals. This theoretical breakthrough came in 1957, when three American physicists namely: John Barden, Leon Cooper and Robert Schrieffer [2] proposed in their seminal work a microscopic theory (now called BCS theory) that describes low-temperature superconductivity. The BCS theory states that superconductivity in simple (nontransition) metals is due to the “condensation'' of pair s of electrons into a bosonlike state, caused by a weak attractive coupling between two electron of antiparallel spins mediated by exchange of a quantum of lattice vibration. As this theory was highly successful the authors were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics 2

African Journal of Physics Vol.4, 2011.

in 1972. This was followed by the award of Nobel Prize in 1973 to Brain Josphson [3] for his discovery of what is currently known as Josephson Effect in tunnelling between two superconductors Spurred by its potential applications, researchers all over the world have been working towards developing materials that could be superconducting at higher and possibly room temperature, since its discovery will not only be a significant breakthrough for science but will also have many technological applications. These efforts have yielded some positive results, ranging from the discovery of superconductivity in niobium alloy, Nb3Ge, at a critical temperature of 23.2 K, in 1973, through the modification of brittle ceramic compound that produced the highest temperature of Tc~ 35 K [4], to the most recent discovery of a class of (iron-based) superconductors, called the pnictides [7]. These discoveries of the socalled high transition temperature (high-Tc) superconductors for non-metal based materials could not be explained satisfactorily by the BCS theory [13]. The outline of this review paper is as follows. We shall give an historic account of superconductivity research in Nigeria in section 2 and describe the contributions of superconductivity researchers in Nigeria in section 3. The challenges of superconductivity research in Nigeria will be outlined in section 4 and conclusions will be drawn in Sec. 5. 2. SUPERCONDUCTIVITY RESEARCH IN NIGERIA Superconductivity research in Nigeria was initiated at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in 1976 by a small group of researchers headed by Prof. Alexander O.E. Animalu, a University of Cambridge trained condensed matter physicist, whose contributions in the development of psuedopotential method and the computation of the Heine-Abarenkov model potential form factors [8] for all metallic elements throughout the Periodic Table helped to revolutionize the field. While training members of his research group in superconductivity research, Animalu simultaneously launched an aggressive research and development into solar energy that subsequently led to the establishment of a National Centre for Energy Research and Development in the University and formation of the Solar Energy Society of which he was the pioneer president. He conceived solar energy R&D as an interdisciplinary project with faculties of engineering and agriculture, motivated by the strategic position of Nigeria within the high temperature region of the earth. Economically, this project was of immense importance considering the energy crisis facing the country. The difficulties he encountered in the solar energy project did not stop the group from venturing into the study of high-Tc superconductivity, following the discovery of high-Tc superconductivity in an oxide material by Georg Bednorz 3

African Journal of Physics Vol.4, 2011.

and Alex Müller of the IBM research laboratory in Zurich in 1986 [4]. Superconductivity research in Nigeria gained additional momentum in September 1990, after the Royal Society London meeting on topical issues on high-Tc superconductors which Animalu attended. He built on the concept of pseudizing away oxygen from copper oxide plane, developed in a paper presented by P.W. Anderson on the construction of resonant valence bond (RVB) model, which involved non-unitary (pseudopotential) transformation and its formal realization in t-J model [9]. Subsequently, Animalu considered various approaches toward understanding the physics of high-Tc superconductors. The approaches include the two-band model, which was originally and independently proposed by Suhl, Mathias, and Walker [10] and Moskalenko [11], and the possibility of adapting the pseudo-potential model that Animalu had developed for the transition metals. He urged two of his graduate students at the time, Chukwuemeka Okoye and George Asomba and later Charles N. Animalu to work on high-Tc superconductors. This initiative has led to several research papers and an increase in the number of students working in the field. To coordinate this effort with similar ones in other Universities in Nigeria, such as researches on lattice dynamics and electron-phonon interaction led by B.N. Onwuagba (the first 1981-postgraduate student of Animalu) lecturing at Federal University of Technology, Owerri and by John Idiodi[12] at the University of Benin, Benin City, Animalu invited them as resource lecturers in the organization of a Foundation Postgraduate Course on superconductivity at the National Mathematical Centre, Abuja, Nigeria (8– 20 October, 2000). This Course helped to bring together material scientists and physicists within the country to discuss developments in the field. As a result Nigerian researchers, notably P. Akusu of the Federal University of Technology, Minna and Godfrey Akpojotor formerly at the University of Benin but now at Delta State University, Abraka and Ironkwe – and others joined the enlarged research group still currently engaged in the quest to unravel the mystery of high-Tc superconductor despite various challenges to which we shall return in Sec. 4. 3. INPUTS FROM RESEARCHERS IN NIGERIA In this section, we outline the contributions made by Nigerians working in the field of superconductivity. These contributions are mainly in the area of high-Tc superconductivity and holographic superconductor. 3.1 Animalu'sIsosuperconductivity Between 1991 and 1994, Animalu[14, 15] proposed a nonlocal Cooper pairing model under the name isosuperconductivity which was a two-band Hamiltonian formalism characterized by the breaking of the SU(2) symmetry through the 4

African Journal of Physics Vol.4, 2011.

mutation of the third (isospin) component of the underlying matrix equation. The main contents of the nonlocal effective model are the pseudopotential (fermionic projection operator) transformations in the two-band Hubbard model [14] in which the transformations for the electron/hole creation (annihilation) operator † † † ˆ† ˆ c† i (ci ) are of the form; ci  ci  (1  n i )ci and ci  ci  ci (1  n i ) . For half-filling, the model Hamiltonian reduced to the two-band version of the kinematics term of Anderson's RVB model [9] and led to prediction of the temperature dependence of TC on the effective valence (z) of the copper ion “trigger” for the pairing in the cuprate superconductors, given by the formula:
TC   D  z  exp( 13.6 / z)(0 K )

θD=367.3 being the Debye temperature for Cuz+. Recently, the isosuperconductivity model has been successfully employed[16] to predict the high-Tc for magnesium diboride and pnictides superconductors with the dependence of Tc on the effective valence z of Fez+ in the iron pnictides given by the above formula with θD= 467 for Fe3+(see, Table 1 and Fig. 1 below). Following the nonlocal pairing model, Asomba [17] constructed an effective Hamiltonian for high-Tc ceramics that incorporated the possible interband charge transfer and studied Jahn-Teller effect for the system.

Table 1: Dependence of Tc on the effective valence z of Cuz+ in the cuprates and Fez+ in the iron pnictides, according to the formula:TC=θDzexp(-13.6/z) (oK), whereθD=367.3 (for Cuz+)and 467 (for Fe3+) are Debye temperatures.

5

African Journal of Physics Vol.4, 2011.

z

Fig. 1 Tc versus z (from Table 1)

3.2 Multiband Approach Fifty years ago, multiband formalism was first proposed for two-band superconductors as an extension of BCS theory for systems where the two band overlap [10]. Each band at the Fermi level E F may exhibit a superconducting gap with distinct magnitude while the interband scattering can increase the T c. To accommodate the physics of multilayer high-Tc superconducting materials [18], Asomba employed the generalized Nambu representation [19, 20], known as the thermal Green's function method, to formulate the BCS theory of superconductivity in systems with an arbitrary number of bands [21]. He showed that the generalized Nambu representation of the two-band BCS like model was equivalent to the two-band Hubbard model using the pseudopotential transformation. A semi-empirical expression for Jahn-Teller stabilisation energy is obtained. This BCS-type model was used to study the hybridization, antiferromagnetism, charge transfer and symmetry shifts in superconducting cuprates [22]. 6

African Journal of Physics Vol.4, 2011.

C.M.I. Okoye, during his doctoral studies completed in 1991, extended the original two-band model [10] by incorporating an exchange interband interaction term of magnetic origin using the Bogoliubov-Valatin formalism [23, 24]. This extended two-band BCS model was used to show the possibility of coexistence of antiferromagnetism and superconductivity in oxides superconductors like GdBa2Cu3O7 [25]. In late 90's, he employed an extended two-band BCS model to study the properties of superconducting cuprate oxides within approximated twosquare-well [26, 27]. In addition in 1992, exact solutions of Hubbard, pseudo-Hubbard and t-J models of high-Tc superconductors were solved and compared with experimental results by late C.N. Animalu [28], using 2Nx2N matrix representation of the symmetry group SO(2N), for N = 2,3,4,5 of fermion creation and annihilation operators proposed by D.J. Thouless [28]. The numerical analysis showed that the thermodynamic properties of the models have similar temperature dependence at high temperatures. It was observed that the magnetic spin susceptibility of the t-J model is similar to that of the pseudo-Hubbard model and both obey Curie law of paramagnetic systems [28]. Unfortunately, the untimely death of C.N. Animalu in 2004 has thus far put this approach to high-Tc superconductivity to a halt in Nigeria. Recently, an extension of the two-band BCS model within the BogoliubovValatin formalism using three-square-well has been employed to investigate the superconducting properties of magnesium diboride [29, 30], (see Fig.2). The discovery of magnesium diboride, which is a well defined two-band and phononmediated [31] superconductor has revived the activity in multiband approach.

Figure 2: Plot of isotope effect exponent against Tc obtained using two-band three-square-well potential formalism and linear-energy dependent density of state [30]. The square black dot is the 7[32] on MgB . experimental result of Hinks et. al. 2

African Journal of Physics Vol.4, 2011.

3.3

Computational Superconductivity

The use of computational tools to understand what is responsible for high-Tc superconductivity in the 21st century has been a growing trend around the world. In accordance with this trend, Nigerian researchers have contributed positively to this quest. Akusu [33] while at Federal University of Technology, Minna, has under Animalu’s supervision studied numerically some properties of superconductivity using two dimensional repulsive Hubbard model. Okoye [34] has investigated the structural, optical, and electronic properties of antiperovskitetype superconductor using density functional approach as embodied in WIEN2k package [35]. Recently, Isikaku-Ironkwe, Oguzie, and Ofe [36] have presented an impressive effort to develop material specific theory for designing superconductors from periodic table properties, based an algorithm for novel high-Tc superconductors that do not employ density functional theory.

3.4

String Theory Inspired Holographic Superconductors

This approach was developed by String theorists who discovered a correspondence between a conformal field theory in d-dimensions and a gravitational theory in d + 1 dimensions. The correspondence is very important for condensed matter physics because, most condensed matter systems near the quantum critical points are invariant under space-time scale transformations. This symmetric property has often led to the notion that a tractable description of these systems could be sort from a Lorentz-invariant 2 + 1 dimensional conformal field theory. However, when the system is strongly coupled, analytical conformal field theory/statistical mechanical description become highly non-trivial and even numerically intractable for some systems. This string theory approach also known as gauge/gravity correspondence tend to bridge this gap, by providing a novel way of calculating the physical observables of the conformal field theory from a weakly coupled gravitational theory in one dimension higher where the calculation is simpler. The correspondence provides a dictionary which describes how the chemical potential, conductivity, characteristic lengths and magnetic penetration depth may be calculated from a hairy black hole solution of a gravitational theory in Anti de Sitter space time. Hence, the name holographic superconductors refer to "strongly coupled" superconductors, whose existence in d-dimensions is better understood in d + 1 dimensions. Contributions in this area from a Nigerian researcher can be found in ref. [37] and, in order to avoid the usual divergences that plague string theories, A.O.E. Animalu and C.N. Animalu had proposed in the 1990s a 8

African Journal of Physics Vol.4, 2011.

conceptually comprehensive solution subsequently finalized in a recent paper titled [43], Space-time geometry of a torus for a Lorentz-invariant and Conformal-invariant string theory without divergences. 4. CHALLENGES FACING SUPERCONDUCTIVITY RESEARCHER IN NIGERIA Irrespective of the successes recorded by Nigerian researchers locally and globally in the field of superconductivity, researchers still face many challenges some of which we wish to highlight in this section. Funding Funding is a serious problem that militates against scientific research anywhere in the world. This is more so when the research effort is perceived to be focused more on theoretical study than on practical applications, and is aggravated by the publish-or-perish syndrome among young academics in the face of dwindling or non-existent Government support for basic research, especially in developing countries like Nigeria. Lack of Research Facilities The unavailability of research facilities such as low temperature laboratories, insufficient computational power, inadequate electric power supply and lack of open access to scientific peer reviewed research journals continue to pose enormous challenge for motivated researchers in Nigeria. However, occasional gifts from colleagues or international collaborators when there is an opportunity to attend conferences or workshop within or outside the country is a mitigating factor. Inadequate skilled manpower A very disrupting hindrance to research in Nigerian universities is the high ratio of number of students to number of lecturers for various courses, which has compelled faculty members, that is the lecturers, to give more time to teaching than research. This, among other factors, has made it difficult to lay the appropriate foundation in mathematics and mathematical sciences required to master condensed matter physics because of the tendency for students in oil-rich nation like Nigeria to focus on such courses such as geology, industrial chemistry, engineering, and so on, with higher prospects than theoretical physics for getting a job on graduation. 5. CONCLUSION We have given a historical overview of research in the area of superconductivity in Nigeria which started in 1980s about seventy years after the 9

African Journal of Physics Vol.4, 2011.

discovery of superconductivity. We pointed out how the small research group initially based at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka was planted and nurtured there and in other sister universities. We presented various problems and challenges that superconductivity research in Nigeria faces which we believe can be overcome through Government funding and wider local and international networking and private-public partnership agreements to encourage private sector participation. References: [1] H. Kamerlingh Onnes, Leiden Comm. 120b, 122b, 124c (1911). [2] J. Bardeen, L.N. Cooper, J.R. Schrieffer, Microscopic Theory of Superconductivity, Phys. Rev. 106, (1957) 162-164. [3] B.D. Josephson, Possible new effects in superconductive tunnelling, Physics Letters 1, (1962) 251-253; I. Giaever, Photosensitive Tunneling and Superconductivity, Phys. Rev. Lett.20, (1968) 1286-1289. [4] J. Bednorz and K.A. Müller, Possible high-Tcsuperconductivity in the Ba-LaCu-O system, Z. Physik B64, (1986) 189-193. [5] V.L. Ginzburg, A.A. Abrikosov, and A.J. Leggett, Nobel Prize of 2003 awarded for Pioneering contributions to the theory of superconductors and superfluids, Low Temp. Phys. 29, (2003) 971. [6] W. Meissner and R. Ochsenfeld, Ein neuer Effekt bei Eintritt der Supraleitfähigkeit, Naturewissenchaften 21 (1933) 787-787. [7] Y. Kamihara, T. Watanabe, M. Hirano, and H. Hosono, Iron-Based Layered Superconductor La[O1-xFx]FeAs (x = 0.05-0.12) with Tc = 26 K, Journal of the American Chemical Society 130, (2008) 3296-3297. [8] A.O.E. Animalu, Electronic Structure of Transition Metals. I. Quantum Defects and Model Potential, Physics Review B 8, (1973) 3542 - 3554. [9] G. Baskaran, Z. Zou and P.W. Anderson, The resonating valence bond state and high-Tc superconductivity — A mean field theory, Solid State Comm. 63, (1987) 973-976. [10] H. Suhl, B.T. Matthias, L.R. Walker, Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer Theory of Superconductivity in the Case of Overlapping Bands, Phys. Rev. Lett. 3, (1959) 552-554. [11] V.A. Moskalenko, Superconductivity of metals with overlapping energy bands, Fiz. Met.iMetallovedenie 8, 503 (1959). 10

African Journal of Physics Vol.4, 2011.

[12] F. Mathew-Ojelabi and J.O.A. Idiodi, Non-Local Theory of SuperConducting –Tc for doped fullerenes, J. of the Nigerian Association of Mathematical Physics 5, (2001) 221-232; G. Akpojotor and J.O. Oseji, The ranges and limits of the electron-phonon coupling constant of superconductivity, Nigeria Journal of Physics 18, (2004) 162-166. [13] I.I. Mazin and J. Schmalian, Pairing symmetry and pairing state in ferropnictides: Theoretical overview, Physica C 469, (2009) 614-627. [14] A.O.E Animalu, Applications of Hadronic Mechanics to the theory of pairing in high-Tc superconductors, Hadronic Journal 14, (1991) 459-465. [15] A.O.E Animalu, Isosuperconductivity: A non-local non-hamiltonian theory of pairing in High-Tc superconductors, Hadronic J. 17, (1994) 349-427; A.O.E. Animalu and R.M. Santilli, Nonlocal Isotopic Representaton of the Cooper Pair in Superconductivity, Int. J. Quantum Chemistry, Vol.29, 175187 (1995) available as free download at http://www.santillifoundation.org/docs/Santilli-26.pdf . [16] A.O.E Animalu, G.E. Akpojotor, and P.I. Ironkwe, Generalization of Convectional BCS Model to Iso-superconductivity in Cuprates and Pnictides, African J. Phys. 2, (2009) 46. [17] G.C. Asomba, Effective Hamiltonian for high-Tc ceramics, (...)CumO(n-x), Physica C 258, (1996) 30-40. [18] B. Batlogg, A critical review of selected experiments in high-Tc superconductivity, Physica B 169, (1991) 7-16. [19] Y. Nambu, Quasi-Particles and Gauge Invariance in the Theory of Superconductivity, Phys. Rev. 117, (1960) 648-663. [20] L.P. Gor'kov, On the energy spectrum of superconductors, Soviet Physics Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Physics 7, (1958) 505-508. [21] G.C. Asomba, Generalization of BCS theory in Green's function method, and application to high temperature superconductivity, PhD thesis (1991) UNN, unpublished. [22] G.C. Asomba, On BCS theory of superconductivity in systems with overlapping bands I. Simple overlap, Physica C 224, (1995) 271-281; II. Overlap, hybridization, antiferromagnetism, charge transfer, and symmetry shift in high-Tccuprates, ibid. 245, (1995) 355-385. [23] N.N. Bogoliubov, On a New Method in the Theory of Superconductivity, Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Physics 34, (1958) 58. 11

African Journal of Physics Vol.4, 2011.

[24] J.G. Valatin, Comments on the theory of superconductivity, Il Nuovo Cimento 7, (1958) 843-857. [25] C.M.I. Okoye, Two-Band Effective Hamiltonian Theory of High Temperature Superconductivity PhD Thesis (1991) UNN, unpublished. [26] C.M.I. Okoye, A two-band model of the isotope effect of the high-Tc superconductors, Chinese Journal of Physics 36, (1998) 53-64. [27] C.M.I. Okoye, Isotope shift exponent in two-band high-Tc superconductors with linear-energy-dependent density of states, Physica C 313, (1999) 197204. [28] C.N. Animalu, Exact solutions of Hubbard pseudo-Hubbard and tJ models and determination of thermodynamic properties of high-Tc superconductors PhD Thesis, UNN (1992) published in Hadronic J. Suppl. Vol. 7 (1992). [29] O.C. Abah, G.C. Asomba, and C.M.I. Okoye, Interband interactions and three-square-well potentials on the superconductivity of MgB2, Solid State Comm. 149, (2009) 1510-1513. [30] O.A. Ogbuu et al., Influence of linear-energy-dependent density of states on two-band superconductors: Three-square-well model approach, Physica C 472, (2011) 441-448. [31] X.X. Xi, Two-band superconductor magnesium diboride, Report on Progress in Physics71, (2008) 116501. [32] D.G. Hinks, H. Claus, and J.D. Jorgensen, The complex nature of superconductivity in MgB2 as revealed by the reduced isotope effect, Nature411 (2001) 457 [33] P.O. Akusu, A Study of the Theories of Superconductivity and the Application of MATLAB in the Exact numerical Analysis of the 2Dimensional and Repulsive Hubbard Model, Ph.D. Thesis, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger State, Nigeria (2002). [34] C.M.I. Okoye, Theoretical investigation of electronic structure and optical properties of paramagnetic non-oxide perovskite AlCNi3, Solid State Comm. 136, (2005) 605-610; Ibid, First-Principle Investigation of Structural and Electronic Properties of New Antiperovskite-Type Superconductor ZnNNi3 in Comparism with ZnCNi3, African J. Phys. 2, (2009) 76. [35] P. Blaha, K. Schwarz, G.K.H. Madsen, D.Kvasnicka and J. Luitz, WIEN2k, An Augmented Plane Wave + Local Orbitals Program for Calculating 12

African Journal of Physics Vol.4, 2011.

Crystal Properties, Karlheinz Schwarz, Technical Universitat Wien, Austria, 2001. ISBN: 3-9501031-1-2. [36] O.P. Isikaku-Ironkwe, E. Oguzie, and U. Ofe,"Transition Temperatures of Superconductors estimated from Periodic Table Properties" ArXiv:1204.0233 [37] O.C. Umeh, Scanning the Parameter Space of Holographic Superconductors, Journal of High Energy Physics 08 (2009) 062.

[38] A. Edi and O. Okobiah, The Attitude of Female Nigerian University Students Towards the Study of Physics and their Performance, African J. Phys. 2 (2009) 346. [39] J.O. Urama, The challenges of Astronomy in Nigeria, Physica Scripta T97, (2002) 20-23. [40] http://www.ptdf.gov.ng/ [41] http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/science-technology/stipolicy/country-studies/nigeria

[42] V. Irikefe, G. Vaidyanathan, L. Nordling, A. Twahirwa, E. Nakkazi, and R. Monastersky, Science in Africa: The view from the front line, Nature 474, (2011) 556-559. [43] A.O.E. Animalu and C.N. Animalu, Space-Time Geometry of a Torus for a Lorentz- and Conformal-invariant String Theory Without Divergences, African J. Phys. (2010), Vol. 3, 63-93.

13

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful