Superconductivity is a process that has been at the center of scientific studies. The mechanisms is quite superb, with materials being able to conduct electric currents without any resistance.
Now, Canadian scientists found new superconductivity properties that may pave the way for levitating trains and ultra-fast computers.
Scientists have recognized in the past years that electron clouds involved in superconductivity are able to form patterns and show varied symmetries in one direction. Study author David Hawthorn says this property carries vital effects to superconductivity - it can contend, coincide or even improve superconductivity.
In the study of Hawthorn and colleagues, they were able to show that electron clouds can break into an aligned and directional arrangement called nematicity.
Nematicity in general refers to the spontaneous alignment of liquid crystals under an electric field.
Electronic nematicity is the formation of electron orbitals in series of rods thus, snapping out its directional arrangement from the symmetry of the crystals.
The researchers found that electronic nematicity is a universal property of high-temperature superconductors that contain copper (cuprates).
Even underdoped cuprates may even exhibit electronic nematicity too, the study found.
Nematicity depends on varied temperatures based on the related structural distortion.
"This implies that there are additional, electronic mechanisms for nematicity," the authors wrote.
To come up with their findings, the scientists used soft X-ray scattering to investigate electron dispersion in the specific layers of cuprate structures. They particularly looked into the electronic nematicity of individual cuprate planes and the crystalline changes in between these planes.
A concrete and final explanation as to why electronic nematicity happens has not yet been identified. However, the authors believe that it may help pave the way to the ultimate objective of uncovering room temperature superconductors.
Further investigation will focus on tuning electronic nematicity, potentially via changing the crystalline structure, says Hawthorn.
Recently, scientists were able to create a self-assembled 3D superconductor that was able to achieve superconductivity after heating and cooling niobium nitride at 850 degrees. However, the reason for the need to heat, reheat and cool materials in order to achieve superconductivity have not yet been determined.
The study was published in the journal Science on Feb. 5.