The peculiar behavior of high-temperature superconductors has baffled scientists for many years. Now, by imaging the copper-oxide plane in a cuprate superconductor for the first time, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have found several new pieces to this important puzzle.
As reported in the Aug. 19 issue of Physical Review Letters, physics professor Ali Yazdani, graduate student Shashank Misra, and colleagues used a scanning tunneling microscope to demonstrate that a single copper-oxide plane can form a stable layer at the superconductor’s surface. This plane behaves differently when exposed at the surface than when buried inside the crystal, the researchers discovered, offering additional insight into the behavior of high-temperature superconductors.
"In contrast to previous studies, we found that this copper-oxide layer exhibits an unusual suppression of tunneling conductance at low energies," Yazdani said. "We think the orbital symmetry of the plane’s electronic states may be influencing the tunneling process and is responsible for the strange behavior we observed at the surface."
Jim Kloeppel | UIUC News Bureau
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