Coming Soon: Cold Atoms Impersonate Superconductors

July 9, 2019

Ultracold atoms arranged in an ordered lattice could provide clues to the origin of high-temperature superconductivity. The array of lattice sites (valleys in the white energy surface) is produced in experiments by laser light. (Credit: Christie Chiu/Harvard University)

Since their 1986 discovery, cuprate superconductors have puzzled physicists. These copper-containing materials can conduct electricity with zero resistance at temperatures of up to 135 K, well above the maximum temperature of 30 to 40 K predicted by theory. For the last 33 years, researchers have sought to explain this enigmatic behavior but still lack a complete description. However, physicists working with ultracold atoms arranged in ordered lattices of laser light think that their experiments could soon provide needed clues. These experiments may be close to generating a model of a high-temperature superconductor in which atoms play the role of electrons. Such a system would allow researchers unprecedented control over the factors that produce superconductivity and would provide a set of tools that could lead to a solution to the high-temperature mystery...

Continue reading "Coming Soon: Cold Atoms Impersonate Superconductors" by Katherine Wright, Physics 12 (July 8, 2019).