Truce: Experiment reveals coexistence between competing states

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By Roger Snodgrass

Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory, working with an international team of collaborators, have reported a curious scientific phenomenon that seems to defy conventional explanations.

This peculiar situation has emerged in a series of steps over the last several years. It involves superconductivity and magnetism, well-known rival states of matter that have now been found under certain precise conditions to get along very well.

Superconductivity is a material state that exhibits zero electrical resistance and has been typically defined by its impermeability to a magnetic field.

But now a report in the Aug. 21 ScienceXpress, an advance electronic print of selected papers for publication in the journal Science, discloses that on certain carefully arranged occasions, the two states actually depend on each other.

“This co-existence is an exotic superconducting state that has not been observed in any other superconducting material,” said Roman Movshovich in a laboratory announcement.

“Such a new and unexpected result has taken the community by surprise,” said Joe D. Thompson, a specialist in cold temperature materials. “In response to some of the talks, listeners opened their mouths and nothing came out.”

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