Study might lead to novel superconductors

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (UPI) — U.S. physicists say they’ve discovered unusual properties in a novel superconducting material that might lead to an entirely new kind of superconductor.

The researchers at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University found the surprising magnetic properties and predict they might have very powerful applications — from improved magnetic resonance imaging machines to new generations of superconducting electric motors and power transmission lines.

Frank Hunte, a postdoctoral associate at the lab’s Applied Superconductivity Center, working with David Larbalestier, Alex Gurevich and Jan Jaroszynski from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, said the research adds to a long list of mysteries surrounding superconductivity, providing evidence that the new materials — being called “doped rare earth iron oxyarsenides — develop superconductivity in quite a new way.

“What one would like is a greater selection of superconductors, operating at higher temperatures, being cheaper, possibly being more capable of being made into round wires,” said Larbalestier. “Iron and arsenic, both inherently cheap materials, are key constituents of this totally new class of superconductors. We’re just fascinated. It’s superconductivity in places you never thought of.”

The complex research appears in the journal Nature.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International
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