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Scientists Study Iron Superconductors’ Atomic Properties, Magnetism May Be Key

An international team of researchers has observed the electronic structure of iron-based superconductors at the atomic scale to answer many questions about their properties. They studied a compound of iron, calcium, and arsenic and doped it with cobalt atoms, which transformed it into a superconductor. They also examined the properties of the material when an insufficient amount of cobalt was added, which may unlock some answers to how superconductivity works. They found that dopant atoms are not neutral, but “do other very surprising things.” One of these is a finding that magnetism may play a role in superconductivity. The researchers say they plan to experiment with a broad range of iron-based superconducting materials to verify the phenomenon and will also see whether changing the locations at which the dopant atoms are placed on the material changes the electronic structure. J. C. Séamus Davis, James Gilbert White Distinguished Professor in the Physical Sciences at Cornell University and director of the Center for Emergent Superconductivity at Brookhaven National Laboratory, led the research team. Other participants were from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Academia Sinica in Taipei, Florida State University, the University of Amsterdam, US Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory, Iowa State University, the University of Colorado, and the University of St. Andrews. They reported their findings in a recent online edition of the journal Nature Physics. (PhysOrg)(Cornell University)(Nature Physics)

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