Quantum scientists have discovered that purple bronze can switch between being an insulator and superconductor, making it an ideal On/Off switch in future quantum technology. The research, led by the University of Bristol and published in Science, found that tiny changes in purple bronze can trigger an instant transition between these two electronic states. Lead author Nigel Hussey explained that this discovery started 13 years ago, with the strange magnetoresistance behavior of purple bronze, which perplexed researchers until a chance encounter provided a possible explanation in 2017. Physicist Dr Piotr Chudzinski’s theory about the interaction between the charge carriers and elusive, composite particles known as dark excitons was confirmed through subsequent experiments. Further investigation of individual crystals proved that this ‘edginess’ could be exploited to create switches in quantum circuits.

This discovery is significant because it demonstrates a rare phenomenon called ’emergent symmetry’, where the material can exhibit both insulating and superconducting behavior depending on certain conditions. The potential for creating a ‘perfect switch’ for quantum devices is exciting and offers a new direction for future quantum technology developments.

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