Researchers discover 'swing-dancing' pairs of electrons, set the stage for room-temperature superconductivity

A research team led by the University of Pittsburgh's Jeremy Levy has discovered electrons that can "swing dance." This unique electronic behavior can potentially lead to new families of quantum devices.

Superconductors, materials that permit electrical current to flow without energy loss, form the basis for devices as well as such as quantum computers. At the heart of all is the bunching of into pairs.

Levy, Distinguished Professor of Physics and Pittsburgh Quantum Institute director, has discovered a long-postulated phase in which electrons form pairs but do not reach a superconducting state. The discovery provides fundamental new insights into a mechanism that could one day be used to design a material that is superconducting at room temperature.

Such a breakthrough would radically transform an array of technologies such as high-speed trains, energy-efficient power transmission, and computers that operate with negligible power requirements. The work, done in collaboration with researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, will be published May 14 in the journal Nature.

One way to understand this novel state is to extend an analogy first articulated by J. Robert Schrieffer, who shared the 1972 Nobel Prize in Physics for the theory of superconductivity. In a superconductor, the motion of paired electrons is highly coordinated, similar to waltzing couples on a dance floor. In the "normal" or non-superconducting state, electrons move independently, bumping into one another occasionally and dissipating energy. What the new research has identified is an in-between state where the electrons form pairs, but each pair moves independently. One may regard the as "swing dancing" where dancing pairs hold hands but do not move in any synchronized fashion.

The first theory to describe how electrons pair without forming a was published by David M. Eagles in 1969. Lead author and research assistant professor in the Levy lab, Guanglei Cheng, described how the theory was proven right: "The breakthrough comes from the technological advancement to fabricate superconducting single-electron transistors at an oxide interface—a technology that allows us to count electrons and pairs one by one. And this is just the beginning. We now have a novel platform to study the fascinating electron-electron correlations at nanoscale dimensions."

Explore further

New evidence for an exotic, predicted superconducting state

More information: Electron pairing without superconductivity, Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature14398
Journal information: Nature

Citation: Researchers discover 'swing-dancing' pairs of electrons, set the stage for room-temperature superconductivity (2015, May 13) retrieved 17 June 2019 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments

May 14, 2015
I already predicted such and gave a physical basis of the swing electrons (nonsuperconducting pairs) in 2005! In "A Theory of the Relativistic Fermionic Spinrevorbital" http://www.academ...AB049585 .You can assess manuscript free by clicking 'Full Text PDF' I gave a model of superconductivity by Cooper pairs and as temperature is raised the phonons scattering electrons into fermionic pairs. In type 1 superconductivity such pair may dissipate the electric energy above a low Tc. But in unconventional superconductivity I proposed that the composition and structure of such superconductors caused gravito-magnetic binding of the paired electrons as the Cooper pair boson is scattered by the phonons by the Little Effect into magnetic fermion pair and gravitomagnetic binding and the gravitomagnetic binding intermediate is not superconducting (this was recently observed by other experimentalist as a 'Jahn Teller metal') .

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more