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Scientists discovered a new dimension to high-temperature superconductivity


Credit: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

A team led by scientists at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory combined powerful magnetic pulses with some of the brightest X-rays on the planet to discover a surprising 3-D arrangement of a material's electrons that appears closely linked to a mysterious phenomenon known as high-temperature superconductivity.

Credit: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

"This was totally unexpected, and also very exciting. This experiment has identified a new ingredient to consider in this field of study. Nobody had seen this 3-D picture before," said Jun-Sik Lee, a SLAC staff scientist and one of the leaders of the experiment conducted at SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) X-ray laser. "This is an important step in understanding the physics of high-temperature superconductors."

Scientists found the 3D model in the superconducting material YBCO (yttrium barium copper oxide). It's a new kind of charge density wave that doesn't oscillate like a light or sound wave -- researchers have been studying a 2D model of this wave since 2012, but the 3D version appears "stronger" and closely connected to the material's superconductivity. Stanford University physics professor Steven Kivelson contributed to the experiment and said, "There is nothing vague about this. You can now make a definitive statement: In this material a new phase exists."

Video: A new dimension to high-temperature superconductivity discovered

The 3D model opens the door for future, more in-depth experiments of high-temperature superconductivity, researchers say.

Read Related:

1) New temperature record: Hydrogen sulfide becomes superconductive under high pressure at minus 70 degrees Celsius
2) A mysterious phase of matter stands in the way of high-temperature superconductivity, new evidence shows

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