Scientists at the University of Texas have developed a superconducting sheet of lead only two atoms thick, a remarkably pliable nanomaterial that could help lead to new breakthroughs in electricity generation and computer processing speeds.

Superconductors offer zero electrical resistance, meaning an electric current flowing through one can persist indefinitely with no power source. They help power the world’s most powerful electromagnets, used in MRI machines, particle accelerators such as the Large Haldron Collider, and the world’s fastest magnetic-levitating trains.

This new superconductive "surface" will enable new devices to be built to study the properties of superconductivity.

The most innovative feature of the university's breakthrough is confining the material to moving in two dimensions – or one quantum channel – like a pair of ballroom dancers, because electrons move through superconductors in pairs.