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Alternative super-current sets new distance record

By Brooks Hays
Alternative super-current sets new distance record
Picture above is the super-cooling device that allowed scientists to induce a superconductive state in a wire made of chrome dioxide. Photo by Leiden University

LEIDEN, Netherlands, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Scientists in the Netherlands have generated a novel electric current and sent it across a record-breaking distance of 600 nanometers.

The current, an alternative super-current, consists of electrons spinning synchronously. Scientists propelled the current across a wire made of chrome dioxide.

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The new research, detailed in the journal Physical Review X, builds on the discovery of superconductors more than a century ago. In the 100-plus years since Nobel Prize-winner Heike Kamerlingh Onnes first sent electrons through super-cooled metal without resistance, physicists have been trying to understand the mechanics of super-currents.

Building on Onnes' work 50 years after his groundbreaking discovery, scientists observed electrons spinning in pairs. Researchers suggested their spinning explained the ability to escape the classical rules of electricity and travel across metal mediums without resistance.

However, their hypothesis included an assumption that pairs of electrons spun in opposite directions, effectively canceling each other out and creating a net spin of zero -- an assumption since proven false.

More recent superconductor studies have shown super-currents can have a net spin.

In the latest experiments, scientists found magnetic chrome dioxide only hosts electric currents with a net spin. When they super-cooled the metal to a superconducting state, researchers measured a surprisingly strong spinning super-current.

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Scientists also managed to bridge a 600-nanometer gap with the novel super-current. Though such a gap seems small, it's large enough to suggest the phenomenon can have practical uses. Researchers believe the alternative super-current can be used to power a computer hard drive without energy loss.

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