Scientists come one step closer to understanding superconductivity

December 22nd, 2007 - 12:49 pm ICT by admin  

London, Dec 22 (ANI): Researchers at University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory have made an advancement in understanding the superconductivity phenomena, that can have a major impact on energy use around the world.

Scientists have been struggling for more than two decades to understand the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a trait that causes materials to move electricity with incredible efficiency.

Conventional superconductors only possess the property at incredibly cold temperatures — far too cold for widespread practical use. A class of materials known layered copper oxides shows superconductivity at higher temperatures, but scientists do not yet know what causes them to take on this very useful trait.

Once you know the mechanism that causes superconductivity, that opens the door to new directions in research,” Nature quoted Pengcheng Dai, lead researcher of the study, as saying.

Superconductivity takes place in a material when its electrons join together in sets of two called Cooper pairs.

The team focussed on understanding the electron pairing in a superconducting material known as PLCCO, a specialized material grown at the University of Tennessee.

The study was conducted by using a specialized device called a scanning tunneling microscope, that established that a type of particle known as a boson is present when the electrons in the PLCCO pair.

Dai said that the energies of these observed bosons are consistent with magnetism, which can be a possible cause of the pairing, a finding that meshed with previous results.

Dai’s earlier study had used neutrons to analyze the PLCCO material that disclosed similar causes for the electron pairings for superconductivity.

“They say if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s probably a duck.

“These findings add to the understanding that magnetism plays a role in creating these important pairs,” he added.

However, Dai made it clear that these finding represent only a step on the way to resolving the many scientific questions about how high-temperature superconductivity works.

The study has been published in last week’s edition of the journal Nature. (ANI)

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