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Technology Science

New Superconductor Theory May Revolutionize Electrical Engineering 92

An anonymous reader writes "High-temperature superconductors exhibit a frustratingly varied catalog of odd behavior, such as electrons that arrange themselves into stripes or refuse to arrange themselves symmetrically around atoms. Now two physicists propose that such behaviors – and superconductivity itself – can all be traced to a single starting point, and they explain why there are so many variations. Most subatomic particles have a tiny magnetic field – a property physicists call 'spin' – and electrical resistance happens when the fields of electrons carrying current interact with those of surrounding atoms. Two electrons can join like two bar magnets, the north pole of one clamping to the south pole of the other, and this 'Cooper pair' is magnetically neutral and can move without resistance. Lee and Davis propose that this 'antiferromagnetic' interaction is the universal cause not only for superconductivity but also for all the observed intertwined ordering. They show how their 'unified' theory can predict the phenomena observed in copper-based, iron-based and so-called 'heavy fermion' materials."
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New Superconductor Theory May Revolutionize Electrical Engineering

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  • Good Stuff (Score:5, Funny)

    by Mr D from 63 ( 3395377 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @04:18PM (#45634485)
    I will go on the record as saying I am 100% in favor of superconductors. All you anti-supercondites can chomp it!
    • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @05:37PM (#45634841)

      Well, superconductors killed my dad, so I'm looking for an immediate ban. If you don't like that, you can just say that directly to distraught face of my poor widowed mother. Superconductors also stole all of the insurance money and repeatedly raped my sister. Well, she called it rape, but really there was no resistance.

      • by leaen ( 987954 )

        Well, superconductors killed my dad, so I'm looking for an immediate ban. If you don't like that, you can just say that directly to distraught face of my poor widowed mother. Superconductors also stole all of the insurance money and repeatedly raped my sister. Well, she called it rape, but really there was no resistance.

        Sorry, we are superconductors. Resistance is futile.

    • by vmxeo ( 173325 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @06:03PM (#45634939) Homepage Journal

      Whoa there buddy. I'm not against "super"conductors. I just think we should suspend all research, development or mention of them until they've been proven completely and absolutely safe. We wouldn't want them accidentally polluting our good, clean, natural, organic conductors, now would we? Think of the children!

    • by slick7 ( 1703596 )

      I will go on the record as saying I am 100% in favor of superconductors. All you anti-supercondites can chomp it!

      As long as it can be metered and not free. FTFY

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Resistance is futile.

    • I'm more into super creative design. I think all alternative theories should be given equal value!

    • I will go on the record as saying I am 100% in favor of superconductors. All you anti-supercondites can chomp it!

      Viva la resistance!

  • Of course! It's so simple now!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Spin is an angular momentum, yes it does generates a magnetic momentum that gives origin to a field. But calling spin a field is like calling earth's angular momentum gravity.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And calling an electron's spin angular momentum is like calling earth's angular momentum temperature.

    • by Nicholas Rezmerski ( 3003323 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @06:59PM (#45635193)

      You can't fool me, young man-- it's fields ALL the way down!

    • If an electron spins like the earth spins, it's revolving at 100 times the speed of light (see []).

  • by 50000BTU_barbecue ( 588132 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @04:44PM (#45634601) Journal
    to one of the BASIC test programs for my Commodore 64 that would fill the screen with random / and \ characters, resulting in a similar pattern. If only I'd made the connection to intertwined ordered phases earlier!
  • Does it predict any room temperature superconductors?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 08, 2013 @05:24PM (#45634779)
      If you keep your room at 2 Kelvin, sure.
      • Re:the question is (Score:5, Informative)

        by InvalidError ( 771317 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @10:19PM (#45636485)

        You do not need 2K for supraconduction: there is at least one class of supraconductor ceramics that works at temperatures as high as 135K and another (YBCO) that works at 92K which makes them relatively simple to cool by simply using liquid nitrogen. Most of the others operate in the 25-55K range.

  • Does this theory predict that really high temperature (room temperature or higher) superconductors are possible, or that they are not? If it does, can it indicate anything about what sort of materials we should be trying to use to fabricate it?
    • Maybe it could explain statene []
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Per the article, statene isn't a superconductor.

        "Although stanene and superconductors can both act like perfect conductors of electricity, Zhang emphasizes that stanene is not a superconductor. While the edges of stanene act as a highway for electrons, those electrons still encounter 'contact resistance' when they move between the stanene and normal conductors. In a superconductor, in contrast, electrons travel in pairs, a phenomenon that can eliminate contact resistance. In other words, a normal conductor

  • Another fluff piece about "breakthroughs" that turn out to be nothing and forgotten. We should all be using 3d optical storage now instead of spinning magnetic media if any of these were true. About the only big deal has been graphene and I still don't see it being used for anything other than "hey look what it can do!".

  • Journal Article (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 08, 2013 @04:59PM (#45634661)

    Would it kill them to link to the original paper? It's not even paywalled: []

  • Toscanini (Score:4, Funny)

    by Mister Liberty ( 769145 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @05:29PM (#45634815)
    Now there was a superconductor. Odd behaviour and all.
  • my take... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 08, 2013 @06:24PM (#45635001)

    FWIW, this appears to be mostly first order theory that is able to exhibit the known interactions that are presumed to destabilize known forms of high-temp superconductivity. It isn't a revolutionary idea, many physicists presume that the interaction of the topology of the Fermi-surface are keys to understanding why some high-temp superconductors work and some do not, but I'm guessing these folks are one the first to show a way to generate most of the known interactions in most types of known high-temp superconductors (apparently other people have done this for copper-oxide HTSC) and hence why this is considered a "unified" theory.

    The insight they appear to claim is there aren't certain configurations of Fermi-surfaces that generate interactions that destabilize HTSCs, but the key is in the energy regime of electron-electron interaction of the anti-ferromagnetic interaction itself. It's kind of like saying in the domain of the formation of these superconductivity inhibitors, it's too simplifying to consider energy regime of particle-field interaction (e.g., electron-pair vs Fermi-surface) but you must consider the energy regime of particle-particle interaction.

    Like all things new, it may be a start, but on the other hand, it is still an untested theory (it's a theory crafted to exhibit known results). If it turns out to be predictive, maybe it might lead to something interesting.

    "Ideally we would like to be able to tell the materials scientist to put elements X, Y and Z together," Lee said. "Unfortunately we can't do that yet."

  • by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @06:55PM (#45635157) Homepage Journal

    Seems to me that there ought to be a corollary to Betteridge's law of headlines (A headline with a question mark can be answered by "no") for headlines with the word "may".

    "Scientific advance X may achieve Y" can be read as "Will scientific advance X achieve Y?". To which the answer is "no", followed by "That's how researchers attempt to get more funding for X, a small advance of interest to those in the field but not exactly flying cars, by pretending it might lead to Y, which it almost certainly won't."

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      Way too much stock is given Betteridge's "law". Wikipedia says he broke his own law. Not much of a law, is it?

      • by Merk42 ( 1906718 )
        You should write an article on it with the headline "Is Betteridge's law always true?"
      • by jfengel ( 409917 )

        Calling it a "law" is an exaggeration for comic effect. But it gets that name because it's common enough to be a recognized trope, indeed overused: you can make a headline more exciting by hinting that a development is more important or that a trend is more pervasive than it actually is. Stories that are important in and of themselves generally have statements rather than questions in the headline.

        Invoking Betteridge's Law may well itself be an over-used trope, but if it is it's only because there's so very

  • a better summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by Goldsmith ( 561202 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @08:55PM (#45635989)

    (Why was a poorly written press release linked instead of the actual paper?)

    This paper shows how you can start with an extremely simple theory of electron interaction and build up to some very complicated, realistic superconducting behaviors. When varying the material properties of high temperature superconductors, you always see an antiferromagnetic material type near the superconducting material composition. For many years condensed matter physicists have suspected that this was more than a coincidence and that high temperature superconductors work because of finely tuned antiferromagnetic interactions between electrons. Although this paper simplifies electron interactions considerably (come on, we're physicists, simplification is what we do), it does fill in some of the larger holes in that theory and is an important step toward understanding the physics behind the phenomenological high temperature superconductivity models.

    • by Twinbee ( 767046 )
      There was a recent (approx 6-20 month old?) breakthrough (reported on Slashdot) in understanding superconductor behaviour. Do you think this new discovery has sourced information, ideas or data from that old breakthrough?

      If you're not sure what I'm referring to, I'll try and find the story.
  •   That is such a misused statement(s), there is very little chance you ever
      hear of this again, not just this article but anything that's claiming to
      be anything other than an interesting article.

      Remember the glass bottles with a coating inside that made the very last
      drop of ketchup/mayonnaise flow, ending waste? Never heard of it again.

      Mouth wash that used once would completely eliminate tooth decay? Yep, dead story.

      I'm not even taking the time to look for links you all know of some
      "make this a better world" solution that never sees the day of light, let
      alone another word.

    • by Twinbee ( 767046 )
      A small proportion of such stories do see the light though. Think back to the 'unusual' light from that OLED tech first produced as one example.

Parallel lines never meet, unless you bend one or both of them.