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Contact: Morgan Kelly
Princeton University

Coexistence of States

Caption: Princeton University-led researchers report that the coexistence of two opposing phenomena might explain how materials known as high-temperature superconductors, which are heralded as the future of powering our homes and communities, actually work. The researchers found that electrons in copper oxide high-temperature superconductors — a copper-oxygen compound prized for making power lines because of its ability to conduct electricity with no resistance — can organize into a fixed pattern known as a charge-order state, or, at a low enough temperature, move freely as superconducting pairs to carry electricity without resistance. The researchers uniquely combined atomic-scale microscopy (front image) and a new sensitive X-ray scattering technique (rear image) to visualize the structure of the charge-order state in copper oxide and its relationship with superconductivity. The image shows that the two techniques reveal unique yet complementary images of the same charge-order state, thereby demonstrating its existence in copper oxide. The junction where the charge-order and superconducting states coexist could help scientists further develop and control superconductivity.

Credit: Image courtesy of Ali Yazdani, Department of Physics

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