Supports earlier controversial finding, may help explain superconducting mechanism
An international collaboration including two physicists from the U.S. Department of Energys Brookhaven National Laboratory has published additional evidence to support the existence of "stripes" in high-temperature (Tc) superconductors. The report in the April 27, 2006, issue of Nature strengthens earlier claims that such stripes -- a particular spatial arrangement of electrical charges -- might somehow contribute to the mechanism by which these materials carry current with no resistance. Understanding the mechanism for high-Tc superconductors, which operate at temperatures warmer than traditional superconductors but still far below freezing, may one day help scientists design superconductors able to function closer to room temperature for applications such as more-efficient power transmission.
In the material the scientists studied, as in all materials, the atoms negatively charged electrons repel one another. But by trying to stay as far apart as possible, each individual electron is confined to a limited space, which makes the electrons "unhappy" in the sense that it costs energy. "Its like putting a bunch of claustrophobics into a crowded room," says Brookhaven physicist John Tranquada, who leads the Labs role in this work.
Karen McNulty Walsh | EurekAlert!
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