Cuprate Superconductor Research

Cuprate Superconductor Research

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Credit: BROOKHAVEN NATIONAL LABORATORY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption: Although it was discovered more than 20 years ago, a particular type of high-temperature (Tc) superconductor -- material that conducts electricity with almost zero resistance -- is regaining the attention of scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory. Copper-oxide compounds, called cuprates, operate at temperatures warmer than traditional superconductors but still far below freezing. Understanding the mechanism for these superconductors may one day help scientists design superconductors able to function closer to room temperature for applications such as more-efficient power transmission. Discovered in 1986, the most perplexing of these cuprate superconductors is ''LBCO,'' named for the elements it contains: lanthanum, barium, copper, and oxygen. After years of research on similar materials, Brookhaven researchers have learned how to ''grow'' better samples of LBCO, which has allowed for extensive studies on its intriguing properties. In order to study the properties of LBCO superconductors, scientists need to produce large, single crystals of the material - a

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