Professor Daniel Agterberg’s research into superconductors is creating quite a spark. In the month of August alone, he has published two papers in Science detailing the properties of superconductors, as part of a long-standing tradition of novel superconductor research here at UWM. A superconductor is a material which – when its temperature is adjusted below a critical point – has its electrical resistance abruptly drop to zero, allowing for perfect conductivity of electricity, and the study of these materials and their properties is a major area of research in the field of Quantum Materials.
“Multicomponent Superconducting Order Parameter in UTe2” was published on August 13 2021, drawing on data collected from experiments performed at the University of Maryland and Stanford University in collaboration with a diverse team of scientists at the University of Maryland, Stanford, Fudan University, NIST, SLAC, and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. The paper details the discovery of a superconducting state that breaks time-reversal symmetry in uranium ditelluride (UTe2).
“Field-induced transition within the superconducting state of CeRh2As2” was published on August 26 2021, with data collected at Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids, Dresden, Germany. In this paper, a magnetic field is found to drive an inversion-symmetry breaking superconducting state.
For both papers, Prof. Agterberg carried out calculations that illuminate the physics of the experimental data.
Both articles continue a UWM tradition of discovering that superconductors are not always “simply” perfect conductors – but can also break symmetries in surprising ways. This tradition began in 1990 when Profs Bimal Sarma and Moises Levy published an influential paper in Physical Review Letters that used sound waves to unravel this crystal symmetry breaking in the material UPt3.
Science is one of the highest-impact scientific journals in the world, with a broad international circulation. It has been at the center of important scientific discovery since its founding in 1880. Publication of a single paper in Science is a great achievement, so kudos to Prof. Agterberg for two publications in a single month!