A team of physicists, including CIFAR’s Graeme Luke and Séamus Davis, have uncovered clues that help explain how superconductors function. Superconductors are materials that carry electricity with no resistance, and currently this can only be achieved at very low temperatures.
The team used a superconducting material familiar to them, replaced some of the original magnetic atoms with new nonmagnetic ones, and then watched how this replacement disrupted the ability of the material to conduct electricity. They found that the magnetic atoms were essential to the flow of electricity through the superconductor. Their findings offer the scientific community new clues about how superconductors conduct electricity so efficiently. Understanding how superconductors work brings us one step closer to someday being able to use them in the technologies we depend on in our day-to-day lives.