In the 1980s, the discovery of high-temperature superconductors known as cuprates upended a widely held theory that superconductor materials carry electrical current without resistance only at very low temperatures of around 30 Kelvin (or minus 406 degrees Fahrenheit). For decades since, researchers have been mystified by the ability of some cuprates to superconduct at temperatures of more than 100 Kelvin (minus 280 degrees Fahrenheit).

Now, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have unveiled a clue into the cuprates' unusual properties—and the answer lies within an unexpected source: the electron spin. Their paper describing the research behind this discovery was published on Dec. 13 in the journal Science.

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