The weird behavior of electrons tunneling across an atomically flat interface within a cuprate superconductor has defied explanation by theories of high-temperature superconductivity.
As will be reported in the journal Physical Review Letters, a team of scientists led by physics professor James Eckstein at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has found a large particle-hole asymmetry in the density of states of excitations in high-temperature superconducting tunnel junctions embedded in a single crystal heterostructure. Since superconductors are supposed to possess particle-hole symmetry — according to current theories — new theoretical work may be required to explain the strange results.
In tunneling spectroscopy of superconductors, the differential conductance is proportional to the density of states in the superconductor. "Below the superconducting transition, the tunneling conductance showed a large unexpected asymmetrical feature near zero bias," Eckstein said. "This is evidence that crystals of high-temperature superconductors, atomically truncated with a titanate layer, have intrinsically broken particle-hole symmetry."
James E. Kloeppel | EurekAlert!
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