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Symmetry-breaking distortions in superconductors

Symmetry-breaking distortions in superconductors

(Top) Ripples extending down the chain of atoms breaks translational symmetry (like a checkerboard with black and white squares), which would cause extra spots in the diffraction pattern (shown as red dots in the underlying diffraction pattern).

(Bottom) Stretching along one direction breaks rotational symmetry but not translational symmetry (like a checkerboard with identical squares but stretched in one of the directions), causing no additional diffraction spots. The experiments proved these new superconductors have the second type of electron density distribution, called a nematic.

More about this image
In 2014, a team of scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, Columbia Engineering, Columbia Physics and Kyoto University discovered an unusual form of electronic order in a new family of unconventional superconductors. The finding established an unexpected connection between this new group of titanium-oxypnictide superconductors and the more familiar cuprates and iron-pnictides, providing scientists with a whole new family of materials from which they can gain deeper insights into the mysteries of high-temperature superconductivity.

The research was supported in part by the National Science Foundation (grant OISE 09-68226).

Read more about this discovery in the NSF News From the Field story Unusual electronic state found in new class of unconventional superconductors. (Date image taken: December 2014; date originally posted to NSF Multimedia Gallery: Jan. 31, 2018)

Credit: Benjamin Frandsen, Columbia University

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