Some high-temperature superconductors might not be so odd after all | Science News

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Some high-temperature superconductors might not be so odd after all

Finding hidden swirls of electric current shows that the material’s behavior matches standard theory

By
7:00am, December 8, 2017
illustration of a superconductor

VORTEX FOUND  Newly observed swirls of electric current in a high-temperature superconductor (shown in an artist’s conception) may indicate that the unusual material fits within the standard theoretical picture.

A misfit gang of superconducting materials may be losing their outsider status.

Certain copper-based compounds superconduct, or transmit electricity without resistance, at unusually high temperatures. It was thought that the standard theory of superconductivity, known as Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer theory, couldn’t explain these oddballs. But new evidence suggests that the standard theory applies despite the materials’ quirks, researchers report in the Dec. 8 Physical Review Letters.

All known superconductors must be chilled to work. Most must be cooled to temperatures that hover above absolute zero (–273.15° Celsius). But some copper-based superconductors work at temperatures above the boiling point of liquid nitrogen (around –196° C). Finding a superconductor that functions at even higher temperatures — above room temperature — could

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