The study of superconducting materials is important, both from a fundamental scientific perspective and due to the immense potential for practical applications. At Notre Dame, Prof. Morten Ring Eskildsen and his research group focus on the study of vortices, electromagnetic “tornados” that are created when a superconductor is subjected to an external magnetic field. Besides being interesting in their own right, the properties of the vortices reflect characteristics of the host material and can therefore be used as powerful probes of superconductors.
Recently graduate student Cathy Rastovski, together with members of the Eskildsen group and collaborators at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Northwestern University, and in France, Switzerland and Japan published a pair of papers in Physical Review Letters only two weeks apart. In the first paper, they reported on the unconventional superconducting state in strontium ruthenate [C. Rastovski et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 111, 087003 (2013)]. The second paper focused on the study of metastable vortex lattice domains in magnesium diboride [C. Rastovski et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 111, 107002 (2013)].
Publishing a single article in a high-impact journal such as Physical Review Letters is a dream come true for any graduate student, but having two articles appear within such a short period is highly unusual, and reflects the caliber of work being carried out by Rastovski and the entire Eskildsen group.Further confirmation came with the recent grant renewal by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences at the U.S. Department of Energy. This grant will fund the Eskildsen group’s research for the next three years.