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Physicists shed light on key superconductivity riddle
Posted on Monday, July 21, 2008 @ 23:21:06 GMT by vlad

Science This scanning tunneling microscope image of a bismuth superconducting compound shows a characteristic checkerboard pattern. The researchers believe this pattern indicates the presence of a charge density wave. Image / Doug Wise, Kamalesh Chatterjee and Michael Boyer, MIT

(PhysOrg.com) -- MIT physicists believe they have identified a mysterious state of matter that has been linked to the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity.

Led by Eric Hudson, associate professor of physics, the researchers are exploring materials that conduct electricity with no resistance at temperatures around 30 degrees Kelvin above absolute zero. Such materials could have limitless applications if they could be made to superconduct at room temperature.

Hudson's team is focusing on the state of matter that exists at temperatures just above the temperature at which materials start to superconduct. This state, known as the pseudogap, is poorly understood, but physicists have long believed that characterizing the pseudogap is important to understanding superconductivity.

In their latest work, published online on July 6 in Nature Physics, they suggest that the pseudogap is not a precursor to superconductivity, as has been theorized, but a competing state.

If that is true, it could completely change the way physicists look at superconductivity, said Hudson.

"Now, if you want to explain high-temperature superconductivity and you believe the pseudogap is a precursor, you need to explain both. If it turns out that it is a competing state, you can instead focus more on superconductivity," he said.

The researchers studied several samples of a bismuth compound that superconducts at high temperatures. Each has a different level of doping (number of extra oxygen atoms that change the material's electrical properties), which influences both its superconducting and pseudogap properties.

"We've studied a variety of samples and found trends which point toward one possible identity, which is a charge-density wave," said Hudson.

Others have suggested that the pseudogap might be a charge-density wave, but this is the first systematic study of a "checkerboard" pattern, which appears when the material is imaged with scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) across a range of samples. The doping dependency of the checkerboard pattern offers strong evidence of a charge-density wave, Hudson said.

"If it is true that the pseudogap is a charge-density wave, that would be a major, major outcome because people have been looking for this for the past decade," he said.

Lead author of the paper is graduate student William Wise. Other MIT authors are graduate students Michael Boyer and Kamalesh Chatterjee, postdoctoral associate Yayu Wang, and former postdoctoral associate Takeshi Kondo.

Provided by MIT
Via: http://www.physorg.com/news135864149.html



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Exotic materials using neptunium, plutonium provide insight into superconductivity (Score: 1)
by vlad on Monday, July 21, 2008 @ 23:23:26 GMT
(User Info | Send a Message) http://www.zpenergy.com
Exotic materials using neptunium, plutonium provide insight into superconductivity

Physicists at Rutgers and Columbia universities have gained new insight into the origins of superconductivity – a property of metals where electrical resistance vanishes – by studying exotic chemical compounds that contain neptunium and plutonium.

While superconductivity holds promise for massive energy savings in power transmission, and for novel uses such as levitating trains, today it occurs only at extremely cold temperatures. As a result, its use is now limited to specialized medical and scientific instruments. Over the past two decades, scientists have made metals that turn superconducting at progressively higher temperatures, but even those have to be cooled below the temperature of liquid nitrogen.

Still, physicists believe room temperature superconductivity may be possible. The work reported by the Rutgers and Columbia physicists is a step in that direction – shedding new light on the connection between magnetism and superconductivity.

"The exotic compounds we're studying will not become practical superconducting materials; however, by studying them we can learn the trends that govern a material's transition to superconductivity" said Piers Coleman, physics professor at Rutgers.
Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news135862196.html [www.physorg.com]


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