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High-temperature superconductors exhibit a frustratingly varied catalog of odd behavior, such as electrons that arrange themselves into stripes or refuse to arrange themselves symmetrically around atoms. Now two physicists propose that such behaviors – and superconductivity itself – can all be traced to a single starting point, and they explain why there are so many variations.

This theory might be a step toward new, higher-temperature superconductors that would revolutionize electrical engineering with more efficient motors and generators and lossless power transmission.

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