Researchers said they have moved a step closer to understanding the mechanism behind high-temperature superconductivity. The discovery of a high-temperature superconductor (bismuth strontium calcium copper oxide) by IBM in 1986 made lower-cost devices feasible. Since then, researchers have been trying to understand why these materials superconduct at such a high temperature. Their aim is to design materials that superconduct at even higher temperatures—perhaps even at room temperature. Earlier this year, IBM confirmed that high-temperature superconduction results from a condensate of Cooper pairs—two electrons bound together with opposing spins. But the mechanism responsible for condensing the Cooper pairs remains a mystery. Working at NIST's Center for Neutron Research, the team claims to have observed what may be the mechanism that binds Cooper pairs, thereby explaining high-temperature superconductivity.