November 18, 2013

Optimizing electronic correlations for superconductivity

Rice-led team discovers iron compounds’ common mechanisms may help find new superconductors

The decadeslong effort to create practical superconductors moved a step forward with the discovery at Rice University that two distinctly different iron-based compounds share common mechanisms for moving electrons.

Samples from two classes of iron-based superconductors, pnictides and chalcogenides, employ similar coupling between electrons in their superconducting state, said Rice physicist Qimiao Si. Understanding that mechanism may help researchers find even better superconductors, he said.