Catching Waves in Superconductors
The day room temperature superconductors are created is a day that will change the world. Sadly that day is unpredictably far in the future, but researchers are constantly developing and testing new theories concerning superconductivity. One of these theories has recently been tested by researchers at MIT and the results will hopefully bring that day a little closer.
One of the theories for explaining superconductivity involves charge-density waves which are a density pattern for electrons not commonly found in conductors. Typically electrons have a uniform density throughout a conductor and in superconductors they are hard to detect except under the right circumstances. The MIT researchers however found a way to catch the hard to see waves which were fluctuating roughly every 2 picoseconds using lasers operating in femtoseconds, which are one thousand times shorter.
The researchers found that while the charge-density waves are present in high-temperature superconductors where they have not previously been discovered, when these superconductors are doped for their highest transition temperature, the waves are not present. This would seem to indicate that the waves disrupt superconducting, so in the future researchers will likely want to find ways to minimize the waves within other superconducting materials.