Superconductors as giant atoms: qualitative aspects

cond-mat/0305574 (Los Alamos), AIP Conf. Proc. 695(1) 21 (17 Dec 2003).
Presented at the meeting 'Highlights in Condensed Matter Physics' in honor of the 60th birthday of Prof. Ferdinando Mancini , May 9-11, 2003, Salerno, Italy

When the Fermi level is near the top of a band the carriers (holes) are maximally dressed by electron-ion and electron-electron interactions. The theory of hole superconductivity predicts that only in that case can superconductivity occur, and that it is driven by $undressing$ of the carriers at the Fermi energy upon pairing. Indeed, experiments show that dressed hole carriers in the normal state become undressed electron carriers in the superconducting state. This leads to a description of superconductors as giant atoms, where undressed time-reversed electrons are paired and propagate freely in a uniform positive background. The pairing gap provides rigidity to the wavefunction, and electrons in the giant atom respond to magnetic fields the same way as electrons in diamagnetic atoms. We predict that there is an electric field in the interior of superconductors and that the charge distribution is inhomogeneous, with higher concentration of negative charge near the surface; that the ground state of superconductors has broken parity and possesses macroscopic spin currents, and that negative charge spills out when a body becomes superconducting.