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Sometimes your worst enemy can become your best friend.

That idea provided motivation for the latest breakthrough from Binghamton University physicist Michael Lawler and his colleagues, who are searching for the mechanism of high-temperature superconductivity.

“Bad” metals, ones that have trouble carrying any electrical current, can become superconductors under the right conditions. “How is it that something that doesn’t conduct normal electricity well becomes such a great superconductor?” asked Lawler, a theorist. He hopes to answer that question, in part by studying materials called cuprates and examining their electronic structure.

The data he and his colleagues analyzed have been available for several years, but have not been well understood. Their findings, that liquid crystal phenomena appear active in cuprate materials, were published this week in the journal Science.

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Category: Science