Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Theory For Latest High-temperature Superconductors

Date:
August 14, 2008
Source:
Rice University
Summary:
Physicists have published a new theory that explains some of the complex electronic and magnetic properties of iron "pnictides." In a series of startling discoveries this spring, pnictides were shown to superconduct at high temperatures. The new theory, which appears in Physical Review Letters, explains some of the similarities and differences between pnictides and cuprates, high-temperature superconductors that have been studied for more than 20 years.

Physicists from Rice and Rutgers universities have published a new theory that explains some of the complex electronic and magnetic properties of iron "pnictides." In a series of startling discoveries this spring, pnictides were shown to superconduct at relatively high temperatures.

The surprising discoveries created a great deal of excitement in the condensed matter physics community, which has been scrambling to better understand and document the unexpected results.

High-temperature superconductivity -- a phenomenon first documented in 1986 -- remains one of the great, unexplained mysteries of condensed matter physics. Until the discovery of the iron pnictides (pronounced NIK-tides), the phenomena was limited to a class of copper-based compounds called "cuprates" (pronounced COO-prayts).

The new pnictide theory appears in this week's issue of Physical Review Letters.

"There is a great deal of excitement in the quantum condensed matter community about the iron pnictides," said paper co-author Qimiao Si, Rice University theoretical physicist. "For more than 20 years, our perspective was limited to cuprates, and it is hoped that this new class of materials will help us understand the mechanism for high-temperature superconductivity."

From its initial discovery, high-temperature superconductivity came as a shock to physicists. Superconductors are materials that conduct electricity without any resistance, and in 1986, the prevailing theory of superconductivity held that the phenomenon could not occur at temperatures greater than about 30 kelvins (minus 405 degrees Fahrenheit). Some cuprates have since been discovered to superconduct at temperatures higher than 140 kelvins.

The 2006 discovery of superconductivity in one iron pnictide did not receive much notice from the physics community, since it occurred only below several kelvins. In February 2008, a group from Japan discovered superconductivity above 20 kelvins in another of the iron pnictides. In March and April, several research groups from China showed that related iron pnictides superconduct at temperatures greater than 50 kelvins.

In their new theory, Si and Rutgers University theorist Elihu Abrahams explain some of the similarities and differences between cuprates and pnictides. The arrangement of atoms in both types of materials creates a "strongly correlated electron system" in which electrons interact in a coordinated way and behave collectively.

Si and Abrahams propose that the pnictides exhibit a property called "magnetic frustration," a particular atomic arrangement that suppresses the natural tendency of iron atoms to magnetically order themselves in relation to each other. These frustration effects enhance magnetic quantum fluctuations, which may be responsible for the high-temperature superconductivity.

"Precisely how this happens is one of the challenging questions in strongly correlated electron systems," Abrahams said. "But even though we don't know the precise mechanism, we are still able to make some general predictions about the behavior of pnictides, and we've suggested a number of experiments that can test these predictions." The tests include some specific forms of the electronic spectrum and spin states.

The research at Rice is supported by the National Science Foundation and the Robert A. Welch Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rice University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Rice University. "New Theory For Latest High-temperature Superconductors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 August 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080813122943.htm>.
Rice University. (2008, August 14). New Theory For Latest High-temperature Superconductors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080813122943.htm
Rice University. "New Theory For Latest High-temperature Superconductors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080813122943.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: SpaceX Rocket Carries 3-D Printer to Space

Raw: SpaceX Rocket Carries 3-D Printer to Space

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) — A SpaceX Rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, carrying a custom-built 3-D printer into space. NASA envisions astronauts one day using the printer to make their own spare parts. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) — Accompanied by drumbeats, wearing costumes and carrying signs, thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Manhattan and other cities around the world on Sunday to urge policy makers to take action on climate change. (Sept. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
What This MIT Sensor Could Mean For The Future Of Robotics

What This MIT Sensor Could Mean For The Future Of Robotics

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) — MIT researchers developed a light-based sensor that gives robots 100 times the sensitivity of a human finger, allowing for "unprecedented dexterity." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
MIT BioSuit A New Take On Traditional Spacesuits

MIT BioSuit A New Take On Traditional Spacesuits

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) — The MIT BioSuit could be an alternative to big, bulky traditional spacesuits, but the concept needs some work. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins