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In 1911, Kamerlingh Onnes conducted electrical analysis of pure metals - mercury, tin and lead - at very low temperatures. Onnes found that at 4.2 kelvin the resistance in a solid mercury wire immersed in liquid helium suddenly vanished. Some, such as William Thomson - Lord Kelvin – believed that electrons flowing through a conductor would come to a complete halt or, in other words, metal resistivity would become infinitely large at absolute zero. Onnes however felt that a conductor’s electrical resistance would steadily decrease and drop to nil.  On April 8, 1911, Kamerlingh Onnes found that at 4.2 kelvin/-270 degrees celsius, the resistance in a solid mercury wire immersed in liquid helium Suddenly Vanished. Onnes wrote in his note-pad that “Mercury has passed into a new state, which on account of its extraordinary electrical properties may be called the superconductive state“. He published more articles about the phenomenon, initially referring to it as “supraconductivity” and, only later adopting the term “superconductivity”

Fast Forward toSeptember 2011: A study undertaken by researchers at Laboratoire National des Champs Magnetique Intenses – Grenoble and published in Nature on September 7, reveals that superconductivity – the phenomenon where a normally conductive materials lose their electrical resistance when cooled – may be linked to the charge-order within the material, in this case copper dioxide. Researchers reported nuclear magnetic resonance measurements showing that high magnetic fields actually induce charge-order, without spin order. The observed static, unidirectional, modulation of the charge density breaks translational symmetry. These findings suggest that charge-order, although visibly pinned by CuO chains in YBa2Cu3Oy, is an intrinsic propensity of the superconducting planes of high-Tc copper oxides.

We have found a new piece of the puzzle in understanding the electronic properties of high-temperature superconducting copper oxides, time will tell whether this piece is a fundamental one” said Marc-Henri Julien, a co-author of the study.

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