Describing iron-based superconductors

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Science  14 Nov 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6211, pp. 823-824
DOI: 10.1126/science.346.6211.823-d

In a superconducting material, pairs of electrons (the so-called Cooper pairs) flow effortlessly through the material without encountering any resistance. The energy needed to break up a Cooper pair is called the superconducting gap. Since their discovery several years ago, iron-based superconductors (IBSs) have puzzled researchers because different IBS families appear to have different gap symmetries. Yin et al. used first-principles calculations to explore the nature of superconductivity in a large number of IBS compounds. They found that three related types of symmetry occurred in different IBS families, including a variant that hadn't been discussed previously. A comparison with experimental data for the compound LiFeAs suggests that the gap in this material has this particular symmetry.

Nat. Phys. 10, 845 (2014).

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