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By J.P. Srivastava

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Kamerlingh Onnes initi­ ated the field of low-temperature physics by liquifying helium in his laboratory at Leiden. 15 K of the dc resistance of mercury dropped to zero (Onnes, 1911). With that finding the field of superconductivity was born. The next year Onnes discovered that the application of a sufficiently strong axial magnetic field restored the resistance to its normal value. 2 K (Onnes, 1913). Another 17 years were to pass before this record was surpassed, by the ele­ ment niobium Tc = 9 2 K (vide Ginzburg and Kitzhnits, 1977, p.

The Ginzburg–Landau (1950) and Lon­ don (1950) results fit well into the BCS formalism. Much of the present theoretical debate centers around how well the BCS the­ ory explains the properties of the new hightemperature superconductors. 1. 1 Superconducting Transition Temperature Records through the Yearsa Material Tc K Year Hg Pb Nb NbN0 96 Nb3 Sn Nb3 Al 3 Ge 1 41 72 92 15 2 18 1 20–21 1911 1913 1930 1950 1954 1966 20 3 23 2 30–35 52 95 110 125 131 133 155 133 164 1971 1973 1986 1986 1987 1988 1988 1993 1993 1993 1994 1994 4 4 Nb3 Ga Nb3 Ge Bax La5−x Cu5 Oy La0 9 Ba0 1 2 CuO4− at 1 GPa YBa2 Cu3 O7− Bi2 Sr 2 Ca2 Cu3 O10 Tl2 Ba2 Ca2 Cu3 O10 Tl2 Ba2 Ca2 Cu3 O10 at 7 GPa HgBa2 Ca2 Cu3 O8+ HgBa2 Ca2 Cu3 O8+ at 25 GPa Hg0 8 Pb0 2 Ba2 Ca2 Cu3 Ox HgBa2 Ca2 Cu3 O8+ at 30 GPa a cf.

33) = 1 11 × 10−8 W /K 2 where the universal constant called the Lorenz number. 34) 3 2 kB /e 2 is IX. FERMI SURFACE Conduction electrons obey Fermi–Dirac statistics. 4b for T > 0. 36) to the Fermi temperature TF , which is typ­ ically in the neighborhood of 105 K. This means that the distribution function f E is 1 for energies below EF and zero above EF , and assumes intermediate values only in a region kB T wide near EF , as shown in Fig. 4b. 9 IX FERMI SURFACE for electrons (a) at T = 0 K, and (b) above 0 K.

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