Scientists embedded elementary particles called muons into a nickel oxide superconductor to learn more about its magnetic properties. They discovered very different magnetic behavior than the best known unconventional superconductors, the cuprates, display.
Unconventional superconductors contain a mix of weird quantum states. SLAC and Stanford researchers found one of them – frozen electron ripples known as charge density waves – in a nickelate superconductor they discovered three years ago.
Superconductors are materials with no electrical resistance whatsoever, commonly requiring extremely low temperatures. They are used in a wide range of domains, from medical applications to a central role in quantum computers. Superconductivity is caused by specially linked pairs of electrons known as Cooper pairs. So far, the occurrence of Cooper pairs has been measured indirectly macroscopically in bulk, but a new technique developed by researchers at Aalto University and Oak Ridge National Laboratories in the US can detect their occurrence with atomic precision.