Physics does not yet know why copper-based superconductors (cuprates) conduct electrical current without dissipation at unprecedentedly high temperatures. Ultra high magnetic fields are used here to suppress superconductivity in a cuprate near absolute zero temperature, revealing an underlying transition to an electronic phase that might be the cause of the superconductivity.

A material already known for its unique behavior is found to carry current in a way never before observed.

Scientists used high magnetic fields and low temperatures to study crystals of URu2–xFexSi2. Using these conditions, they explored an intriguing state of matter called the "hidden order phase" that exhibits emergent behavior. Emergent behavior occurs when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, meaning the whole has exciting properties that its parts do not possess; it is an important concept in philosophy, the brain and theories of life. This data provide strict constraints on theories of emergent behavior.

Discovery could help scientists better understand exotic behaviors of electrons.

The finding in fullerides opens a new way of exploring the role electron interactions play in high-temperature superconductivity

At high magnetic field, free-flowing particles condense into “puddles.”

Team opens new path for understanding hidden order.

Scientists using MagLab magnets bolster theory that quantum fluctuations drive strange electronic phenomena.