High-speed train. Two Rutgers physics professors have proposed an explanation for a new type of order, or symmetry, in an exotic material made with uranium — a theory that may one day lead to enhanced computer displays and data storage systems and more powerful superconducting magnets for medical imaging and levitating high-speed trains. (Credit: © Daniel Loncarevic / Fotolia)

New Order Found in Quantum Electronic Material: May Lead to New Materials, Magnets and Superconductors

Jan. 30, 2013 — Two Rutgers physics professors have proposed an explanation for a new type of order, or symmetry, in an exotic material made with uranium — a theory that may one day lead to enhanced computer displays and data storage systems and more powerful superconducting magnets for medical imaging and levitating high-speed trains.

Their discovery, published in this week’s issue of the journal Nature, has piqued the interest of scientists worldwide. It is one of the rare theory-only papers that this selective publication accepts.

Collaborating with the Rutgers professors was a postdoctoral researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who earned her doctorate at Rutgers.

“Scientists have seen this behavior for 25 years, but it has eluded explanation.” said Piers Coleman, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the School of Arts and Sciences. When cooled to 17.5 degrees above absolute zero or lower (a bone-chilling minus 428 degrees Fahrenheit), the flow of electricity through this material changes subtly.

The material essentially acts like an electronic version of polarized sunglasses, he explains. Electrons behave like tiny magnets, and normally these magnets can point in any direction. But when they flow through this cooled material, they come out with their magnetic fields aligned with the material’s main crystal axis.

Read more: New order found in quantum electronic material: May lead to new materials, magnets and superconductors — Science Daily.

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