High temperature superconductors with zero energy loss find new magnetic properties

08/05/2013 - 00:00

Intrinsic inefficiencies plague current systems for the generation and delivery of electricity, with significant energy lost in transit. High-temperature superconductors (HTS) — uniquely capable of transmitting electricity with zero loss when chilled to subzero temperatures — could revolutionize the planet’s aging and imperfect energy infrastructure, but the remarkable materials remain fundamentally puzzling to physicists. To unlock the true potential of HTS technology, scientists must navigate a quantum-scale labyrinth and pin down the phenomenon’s source.

Now, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and other collaborating institutions have discovered a surprising twist in the magnetic properties of HTS, challenging some of the leading theories. In a new study, published online in the journal Nature Materials, scientists found that unexpected magnetic excitations — quantum waves believed by many to regulate HTS — exist in both non-superconducting and superconducting materials.