Rhodium and iridium compound used in heavy electron behavioural study - 2nd November 2007

US researchers claim to have uncovered clues as to how superconductivity works using a metallic crystalline compound of rhodium, iridium, indium, cobalt and cerium to observe heavy electron behaviour.

The team at Rutgers University, New Jersey, claims that by using these materials they were able to observe in greater detail how electrons become one thousand times larger in certain metal compounds when at temperatures near absolute zero, sciencedaily.com reports.

The development was enabled by the use of cerium-based compounds, which due to their lack of dopants, made study of electron behaviour easier than had been the case in previous experiments conducted with superconducting materials called cuprates.

Kristjan Haule, Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the facility, said: "The new compounds are for us what fruit flies are for genetics researchers. Fruit flies are easy to breed and have a simple gene makeup that's easy to change.

"Likewise, these compounds are easy to make, structurally straightforward and adjustable, giving us a clearer view into the many properties of matter that arise at low temperatures.

He added: "For example, we can use a magnetic field to kill superconductivity and examine the state of matter from which superconductivity arose."

Professor Haule was assisted in his research by Gabi Kotliar, Board of Governors Professor of Physics in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University and Ji-Hoon Shim, a postdoctoral student.


How Electrons 'Gain Weight' In Metal Compounds Near Absolute Zero, 01/11/07

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