Learning How Magnetism and Superconductivity Behave in Iron-Based Superconductors
At some point in the future, everything may be supplied power with cables that have no electrical resistance. Such a use of superconductors is still a ways off though as even high temperature superconductors still require subzero temperatures. To one day achieve room temperature superconductivity, researchers are studying the different superconducting materials, and researchers at Ames Laboratory have recently discovered an interesting property of one class of materials.
For a long time, researchers believed that magnetism and superconductivity could not coexist in a material, but then some iron-based superconductors were found that could be magnetic and superconducting. Now these materials are studied carefully in part because magnetism allows for unique measurements to be made of the material. The Ames researchers, after finding a way to prevent the superconductor crystals from splitting, experimented with different compositions of the material by substituting some atoms. This caused the number of conducting electrons to increase or decrease, and the researchers were surprised to find that this would actually switch the directionality of the superconductivity.
This discovery strongly indicates that the magnetic properties of this type of superconductor do impact its superconducting properties. Such knowledge is necessary if it is ever to see use outside of a laboratory.
Source: Ames Laboratory