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Some electrons in a superconducting material behave as if they were in a conventional metal, others as in an unconventional one – depending on the direction of their motion.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-11-electrons-personality.html#jCp

Some electrons in a superconducting material behave as if they were in a conventional metal, others as in an unconventional one – depending on the direction of their motion.

Understanding the origins of high-temperature superconductivity, the ability of some materials to conduct electricity without any resistance and therefore without loss of energy, is one of the most important quests of modern physics. It is also highly relevant for technical applications since it would allow the development of superconductors with properties tailored to suit various possible applications. Important insights can be gained from investigating superconducting materials at temperatures above the transition temperature, i.e. the temperature above which the superconducting property is lost.

In collaboration with colleagues from Sweden, France and England, researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute have now investigated the interactions of the electrons responsible for conducting electricity in the high-temperature superconductor La1.77Sr0.23CuO4 above the transition temperature. Experiments performed at the Paul Scherrer Institute's Swiss Light Source showed that the electrons in the material have a "split personality" – they can behave in two different ways in one and the same material.

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