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Strange metals are even weirder than scientists thought

A new insight could help researchers better understand high-temperature superconductors

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6:00am, August 6, 2018
magnet

MAGNETIC PERSONALITY  Scientists used a powerful magnet (shown) to reveal the odd behavior of strange metals in strong magnetic fields.

Curiouser and curiouser: Strange metals are getting a little stranger.

Normal metals such as copper and aluminum are old hat — physicists have a strong grasp on the behavior of the electrons within. But strange metals behave in mysterious ways, and researchers have now uncovered an additional oddity. A type of strange metal called a cuprate behaves unexpectedly when inside a strong magnetic field, the team reports in the Aug. 3 Science.

Strange metals are “really one of the most interesting things to happen in physics” in recent decades, says theoretical physicist Chandra Varma of the University of California, Riverside, who was not involved with the research. The theory that explains the behavior of standard metals can’t account for strange metals, so “a completely new kind of fundamental physics” is needed.

The metallic curios’ idiosyncrasies relate

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