Mystery material stuns scientists

In a remarkable chance landmark discovery, a team of researchers at four universities has discovered a mysterious material that emits ultraviolet light and has insulating, electrical conducting, semiconducting, superconducting, and ferromagnetic properties — all controlled by surface water.It happened while the researchers were studying a sample of lanthanum aluminate film on a strontinum titanate crystal. The sample mysteriously began to glow, emitting intense levels of ultraviolet light from its interior. After carefully reproducing the experimental conditions, they tracked down the unlikely switch that turns UV light on or off: surface water moisture.The team of researchers from Drexel University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of California at Berkeley, and Temple University also found that the interface between the materials’ two layers of electrical insulators also had an unusual electrical conducting state that, like UV, could also be altered by the water on the surface.

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