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Superconductivity: New piece in the puzzle

Date:
September 14, 2011
Source:
CNRS (Délégation Paris Michel-Ange)
Summary:
By destabilizing superconductivity with a strong magnetic field, the electrons of a “high temperature” superconductor align into linear filaments. This phenomenon has been demonstrated by a team of researchers in France. The results add a new piece to the puzzle that condensed-matter physicists have been trying to put together for nearly 25 years.

Central part of a resistive coil at the LNCMI in Gr enoble, capable of generating a continuous magnetic field of! 35 Tesl a. The quality of the field obtained enables NMR experiments to be conducted at frequencies of around 1.5 GHz.
Credit: © Bertrand Maclet / CNRS

By destabilizing superconductivity with a strong magnetic field, the electrons of a "high temperature" superconductor align into linear filaments, researchers report.

This phenomenon has been demonstrated by a team of researchers at the CNRS Laboratoire National des Champs Magnétiques Intenses. Published in Nature on Sept. 8, 2011, these results add a new piece to the puzzle that condensed-matter physicists have been trying to put together for nearly 25 years.

Discovered a century ago, superconductivity is a spectacular phenomenon that is still intriguing researchers. What are known as "high temperature" superconductors are of particular interest to scientists, especially cuprates, i.e. copper oxides whose maximum superconducting temperature is around -140°C. How do electrons manage to organize themselves into a single wave in these cuprates, thereby allowing the material to become a superconductor? This is the question that researchers have been trying to answer for the last twenty-five years.

It is in this context that the team from the Laboratoire National des Champs Magnétiques Intenses, in collaboration with scientists from Vancouver, subjected samples of the cuprate YBa2Cu3O6.5 to particularly strong magnetic fields (thousands of times more powerful than those of the small magnets used on fridge doors). Using the technique of nuclear magnetic resonance(4), the researchers probed this superconductor at the atomic scale and discovered that electrons, under such intense fields, tend to align into rectilinear filaments or "stripes."

Such an alignment of charges has only ever been observed previously in non-superconducting or weakly superconducting materials but never in materials with high superconductivity. This discovery makes it possible to understand why this is so: a strong magnetic field must weaken superconductivity for the effect to be observed. The results also suggest that this alignment could be an underlying tendency in all cuprates. However, it is still not clear whether this new piece of the puzzle has any relation with the superconductivity mechanism of these materials.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by CNRS (Délégation Paris Michel-Ange). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Tao Wu, Hadrien Mayaffre, Steffen Krämer, Mladen Horvatić, Claude Berthier, W. N. Hardy, Ruixing Liang, D. A. Bonn, Marc-Henri Julien. Magnetic-field-induced charge-stripe order in the high-temperature superconductor YBa2Cu3Oy. Nature, 2011; 477 (7363): 191 DOI: 10.1038/nature10345

Cite This Page:

CNRS (Délégation Paris Michel-Ange). "Superconductivity: New piece in the puzzle." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110913090832.htm>.
CNRS (Délégation Paris Michel-Ange). (2011, September 14). Superconductivity: New piece in the puzzle. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110913090832.htm
CNRS (Délégation Paris Michel-Ange). "Superconductivity: New piece in the puzzle." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110913090832.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

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