University of California scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory working with a researcher from Chonnam National University in South Korea have found that magnetic fluctuations appear to be responsible for superconductivity in a compound called plutonium-cobalt-pentagallium (PuCoGa5). The discovery of this "unconventional superconductivity" may lead scientists to a whole new class of superconducting materials and toward the goal of eventually synthesizing "room-temperature" superconductors.
In research reported in todays edition of the scientific journal Nature, Nicholas Curro and a team of researchers provide evidence of how magnetic fluctuations, rather than interactions mediated by tiny vibrations in the underlying crystal structure, may be responsible for the electron pairing that produces superconductivity in the mixture of plutonium, cobalt and gallium.
Superconductivity is an unusual state of matter in which electrical current flows without resistance through a material as a result of the materials electrons acting in pairs. Since the discovery at Los Alamos of PuCoGa5 roughly two years ago, a burning question has been whether the compound was just another garden-variety superconductor, a so-called s-wave superconductor, or an unconventional one that is mediated by magnetic fluctuations, a d-wave superconductor.
Todd Hanson | EurekAlert!
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