PORTLAND, Ore. -- The discovery of asymmetries in the formation of liquid crystals eventually led to their control. The result was the liquid-crystal display. Now, researchers at Brookhaven National Laboratory believe they have found similar asymmetries in the formation of superconductors, potentially leading to their control and subsequent room-temperature operation.
At super low temperatures, many materials behave as superconductors, conducting electricity without resistance. As their temperature rises the unrestricted flow of electricity fades. Researchers at Brookhaven Labs (Upton, N.Y.) have cataloged asymmetries that simultaneously arise when superconductivity fades, potentially explaining the behavior in a way that engineers could harness to raise their temperature while maintaining superconducting property.
Using spectroscopic imaging scanning tunneling microscopy, the researchers said they measured the ease with which electrons can jump from the material's surface to the microscope's tip, discovering asymmetries within the molecular lattice of the material.
Next, the researchers said they plan to investigate how the change in asymmetry affects the resistance-less flow of electricity in potential room-temperature superconductors. They then hope to find a method for enabling them to maintain their superconductivity at higher temperatures.
The Brookhaven researchers collaborated with colleagues at Binghamton University, Cornell University, the University of Tokyo, the Advanced Institute of Science and Technology of South Korea, the Riken Laboratory of Japan and Japanís Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.