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From sustainable energy to quantum computers: high-temperature superconductors have the potential to revolutionize today’s technologies. Despite intensive research, however, we still lack the necessary basic understanding to develop these complex materials for widespread application. “Higgs spectroscopy” could bring about a watershed as it reveals the dynamics of paired electrons in superconductors. An international research consortium centered around the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research (MPI-FKF) is now presenting the new measuring method in the journal Nature Communications. Remarkably, the dynamics also reveal typical precursors of superconductivity even above the critical temperature at which the materials investigated attain superconductivity.

Superconductors transport electric current without a loss of energy. Utilizing them could dramatically reduce our energy requirements – if it weren’t for the fact that superconductivity requires temperatures of -140 degrees Celsius and below. Materials only ‘turn on’ their superconductivity below this point. All known superconductors require elaborate cooling methods, which makes them impractical for everyday purposes. There is promise of progress in high temperature superconductors such as cuprates – innovative materials based on copper oxide. The problem is that despite many years of research efforts, their exact mode of operation remains unclear. Higgs spectroscopy might change that.

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Category: Science