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Accidental discovery dramatically enhances electrical conductivity in crystals

Jonathan Marker | Science Recorder | November 14, 2013

Accidental discovery dramatically enhances electrical conductivity in crystals

A doctoral student made the accidental discovery when she noticed that the conductivity of a strontium titanate crystal exploded after it was left out one day.

A November 14 press release from Washington State University announced the accidental discovery of a 400-fold increase in the electrical conductivity of a crystal by exposing it to light.  Researchers found that the effect lasted for several days after the crystal was removed from exposure to light, and promises to drastically improve the performance of electronic devices.

WSU doctoral student Marianne Tarun made the accidental discovery when she noticed that the conductivity of a strontium titanate crystal exploded after it was left out one day.  She and her colleagues initially believed the sample was contaminated, but a succession of experiments showed the effect was, indeed, from light.

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