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“Nano-Rivers” of Electricity found in New Superconductors

 Atomic-Scale Microscopy Reveals the Motion of Electrons in Complex Materials. Superconductors conduct electricity perfectly — with no losses or degradation — and would seem ideal for many energy-related applications, including power lines. Unfortunately, today’s superconductors (even so-called “high-temperature” superconductors) only work at very cold temperatures, which limits their use. Recently, a new class of iron-based superconductors was discovered that may hold the secrets to better performance.<br />
Researchers at Cornell University have developed the world’s most sensitive microscope which allows them to watch the flow of electricity in these new materials. An atomic-scale picture of this material (top left) shows diagonal stripes of atoms. Surprisingly, electricity does not flow along the diagonal direction. Instead, the electricity spontaneously forms horizontal “nano-rivers” indicated by orange arrows. A detailed analysis of these nano-rivers, shown in the bottom panel, finds that they contain exactly 8 iron atoms.<br />
Understanding the origins of these newly discovered nano-rivers may unlock the secret to better superconductors.&