Is This Why Tc Is So Low?

Science  14 May 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5417, pp. 1137-1138
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5417.1137

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As the temperature of a superconductor is lowered, the normal state makes a transition to a superconducting state. The temperature at which this happens should depend on the natural energy scales of the superconductor. In the copper oxide materials, however, one would expect a much higher transition temperature than is observed. Hence, the provocative question raised by researchers: Why is the transition temperature so low? In their Perspective, Balatsky and Shen discuss recent data on a number of high-transition temperature superconductors. One possible answer to the question is that the low transition temperature may be the result of charge carriers with unusually high effective mass.