Scientists Los Alamos National Laboratory, US have discovered a potential new state of matter that may help explain phenomena like superconductivity.
It was discovered in the high-magnetic-field state of the heavy fermion superconductor CeRhIn5. Heavy fermions are intermetallic compounds, containing rare earth or actinide elements.
In the new state, material’s electrons are aligned in such a way, that they apparently reduce the symmetry of the original crystal. This appearance of electronic alignment in a prototypical heavy-fermion superconductor is called nematic behaviour. It is phenomenon of electronic symmetry breaking, common among the superconducting materials in high magnetic fields.
It highlights the interrelation of nematicity and unconventional superconductivity, suggesting that nematicity is common among correlated superconducting materials. It appears to be universal among unconventional superconductors. Unconventional superconductivity develops near a phase boundary separating magnetically ordered and magnetically disordered phases of a material.
Superconductivity is the ability of certain materials to conduct electric current with practically zero resistance. For a material to behave as a superconductor, low temperatures are required i.e. they act as superconductors when they cooled below a characteristic critical temperature. Superconductivity was first observed in 1911 by H. K. Onnes, a Dutch physicist. Superconductivity is extensively used in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), particle accelerators, magnetic fusion devices, microwave filters, high-speed magnetic-levitation trains, ultra-high-speed computer chips and high-capacity digital memory chips etc.