Surprising competition found in high-temperature superconductors

November 15, 2012 by Mike Ross

(—A team led by SLAC and Stanford scientists has made an important discovery toward understanding how a large group of complex copper oxide materials lose their electrical resistance at remarkably high temperatures.

The materials in question are high-temperature superconductors, which conduct electricity perfectly with no resistance when cooled below minus 100 degrees Celsius.

In a report published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers led by SLAC Chief Scientist and Stanford Professor Zhi-Xun Shen describe the surprisingly complex and dynamic way that the electrons organize themselves within one group of copper oxide superconductors, known as cuprates. They created a complete phase diagram of the material – a roadmap of its properties – over a range of compositions and temperatures that are ideal for superconductivity.

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