Magnetism leads to superconductivity

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Science  19 Sep 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6203, pp. 1464
DOI: 10.1126/science.345.6203.1464-g

Some materials become perfect conductors of electricity—superconductors—when they are cooled to low enough temperatures. In a superconducting material, electrons pair up with each other to form Cooper pairs, a counterintuitive phenomenon because we usually think of electrons as mutually repulsive. The electrons in these pairs must be “glued” together with a mediating interaction, but the nature of the glue is known reliably only for the simplest, conventional kind of superconductors. Van Dyke et al. provide strong evidence that magnetic interactions mediate the pairing in the unconventional superconductor CeCoIn5. They used a scanning tunneling microscope to measure the electronic structure of the material, and then used those measurements to extract the material's magnetic interactions and calculate its superconducting properties. The results agreed well with independent experiments.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 111, 11663 (2014).

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