Potentially Improving Superconductor Performance
Superconductivity is a phenomenon many would like to see used extensively in the future, as the ability to transmit electricity without resistance could greatly reduce energy waste. One of the current outstanding problems however is that superconductivity only arises at temperatures well below room temperature. Researchers at ORNL though have recently completed some research that could help improve the performance of some superconductors.
Exactly how superconductivity works is still a mystery, but for some cases concerning high-temperature superconductors, it appears that dopants are very important. These dopants are extra chemicals added to the material, and despite disrupting the otherwise uniform structure, they are necessary for achieving superconductivity. In fact what the ORNL researchers have found is that the strong superconductivity comes directly from regions where the dopants are clustered.
This discovery suggests that by designing a crystal in which the clusters join together, a higher performance superconductor could be created. It also provides a little extra insight into how the interactions between atoms give rise to superconductivity, and that is invaluable information.
Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory