Electrons have potential for mutual attraction | Science News



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Electrons have potential for mutual attraction

Nanotube system overcomes natural repulsion in possible step toward advanced superconductors

1:01pm, July 20, 2016
electrons illustration

ELECTRONS ATTRACT Although electrons normally repel one another, a new study shows that two electrons (green in this illustration) can attract, thanks to their repulsion from other electrons (purple).

Standoffish electrons typically keep one another at arm’s length, repelling their neighbors. But surprisingly, under certain circumstances, this repulsion can cause pairs of electrons to soften their stance toward one another and attract instead, new research shows. The effect may be the key to someday producing a new type of high-temperature superconductor, scientists report in the July 21 Nature.

Though the effect was first predicted over 50 years ago, previous attempts to coerce electrons to behave in this chummy way have failed. Like charges repel, so negatively charged electrons ordinarily rebuff one another. But now researchers have validated the counterintuitive idea that an attraction between electrons can emerge. “Somehow, you have [this] magic that out of all this repulsion you can create attraction,” says study coauthor Shahal Ilani, a physicist at the Weizmann Institute of

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