Uncovering the Glue of Cooper Pairs
Superconductivity is a phenomenon that could drastically change the world, when we can finally get it to occur at room temperatures. Currently the only materials capable of conducting electricity without resistance must be chilled to very low temperatures to do so. Researchers at the University of Illinois, Chicago, Cornell University, and Brookhaven National Laboratory have recently made a discovery about a fundamental aspect of superconductivity that could one day help raise the critical temperature.
Superconductivity is achieved when electrons couple with each other to form Cooper pairs. These pairs are able to travel without resistance, but exactly what keeps them together is not known. By using a technique called quasi-particle spectroscopy on a superconductor made of cerium, cobalt, and indium, the researchers were able to make key measurements of the pairs. What they found was that the bond between the electrons is highly directional, so in some directions they are bound to each other, and in other directions they are not. According to the researchers, this implies it is magnetism that holds the pairs together, as it too is highly directional, which agrees with a thirty-year-old hypothesis about Cooper pairs.
Through this understanding of Cooper pairs, it may be possible to remove some of the complexity of superconductivity and enable the critical temperature to be tuned upward.
Source: University of Illinois, Chicago