The Two Mysteries of Superconductivity
Superconductivity is a most remarkable property of matter, whereby electrons enter spontaneously a state of macroscopic quantum coherence in which electricity flows perfectly. Were this state sustainable at room temperature, our technological world would be profoundly transformed. The most promising materials are the copper oxides that remain superconducting halfway to room temperature. But two long standing puzzles have prevented scientists from understanding how this maximal temperature might be raised. The first is an enigmatic state called the pseudo-gap phase, which coexists with superconductivity and may compete with it. The second is the nature of the glue that binds electrons into Cooper pairs to form coherent superconductivity. In my talk, I will discuss recent experimental discoveries and present fresh ideas that shed new light on these two mysteries.