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The search for high-temperature superconductors is extremely difficult, because many of the quantum effects related to superconductivity are not yet well understood. Professor Neven Bariši, professor for solid state physics at TU Wien (Vienna) is performing experiments with cuprates, a class of materials which behave as a superconductor at record temperatures as high as 140K at ambient pressure. Bariši and his colleagues have now come up with a remarkable set of results and new insights that could profoundly change the way we think about these complex materials and high-temperature superconductivity in general.
"The phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity has been thoroughly investigated for decades, but nobody has cracked the problem yet," says Neven Bariši. "Quite a few materials show superconducting behaviour at temperatures close to absolute zero, and we understand why this happens in some of them. But the real challenge is to understand superconductivity in cuprates, where this states persists at much higher temperatures. A material which behaves as a superconductor at room temperature would be the Holy Grail of solid state physics -- and we are getting closer and closer."
Bariši - Colleagues - Kinds - Charge - Carriers
Bariši and his colleagues have shown that there are two fundamentally different kinds of charge carriers in cuprates, and suggested that superconductivity crucially depends on the subtle interplay between them.
Some of the electrical charge is localized -- each of these charge carriers sits at particular set of atoms and can only move away if the material is heated. Other charge carriers can move, jumping from one atom to another. It is the mobile charge that ultimately becomes superconductive, but superconductivity can only be explained by taking the immobile charge carriers into account too.
Interaction - Mobile - Charge - Carriers - Properties
"There is interaction between the mobile and the immobile charge carriers, which governs the properties of the system," says Bariši. "Apparently, the immobile charges act as the glue, binding...
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