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Insights Into a Unique Form of Superconductivity

As part of her ERC Starting Grant Distort-to-grasp, Anna Böhmer is researching specific electron states in superconductors. The recently discovered phenomenon raises many questions.

In some materials, electrons assume an unusual state, the so-called nematic order: they don’t move evenly in all directions, but spontaneously assume a preferred orientation. Researchers have now described this recently discovered behavior in several superconductors, i.e. in materials that can conduct electricity without loss. So far, however, there have been no high-resolution methods to study such nematic superconductors. With her ERC Starting Grant, Professor Anna Böhmer hopes to change that.

Both superconductivity and nematic order are based on specific electron states. In superconductors, electrons come together in special pairs, which causes the electrical resistance to disappear completely. In nematic order, the electrons lose their spherical symmetry and prefer a certain orientation. “The phenomenon of superconductivity has been known for 100 years, but many aspects remain a mystery nonetheless,” says Anna Böhmer. Even more puzzling for researchers is the combination of superconductivity and nematic order: why do nematic order and unconventional superconductivity often occur together? Is there a common mechanism that causes both nematic order and superconductivity? A new method is supposed to help answer these questions.

The Starting Grant "Distorting unconventional superconductivity - A grasp of electronic phases with multiple broken symmetries" is endowed with 1.5 million euros. The project starts in 2023.


Professor Anna Böhmer

Anna Böhmer holds the professorship for experimental solid-state physics at Ruhr University Bochum.


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