Physicists discover a new switch for superconductivity

Physicists have discovered that the mechanism driving iron selenide towards a nematic transition, in which materials shift their structure to unlock new superconducting behaviour, occurs through a collective shift in their orbital energy rather than a coordinated shift in spins. The discovery of superconductivity has the potential to revolutionise the real world in many ways, including in the development of more precise and lighter-weight MRI machines and high-speed, magnetically levitating trains. Until now, scientists had believed that most superconducting materials, including iron selenide, switch within an atom’s coordinated preferred direction.

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