Research ArticlePHYSICS

Fully gapped superconductivity with no sign change in the prototypical heavy-fermion CeCu2Si2

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Science Advances  23 Jun 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 6, e1601667
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1601667

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Abstract

In exotic superconductors, including high-Tc copper oxides, the interactions mediating electron Cooper pairing are widely considered to have a magnetic rather than a conventional electron-phonon origin. Interest in this exotic pairing was initiated by the 1979 discovery of heavy-fermion superconductivity in CeCu2Si2, which exhibits strong antiferromagnetic fluctuations. A hallmark of unconventional pairing by anisotropic repulsive interactions is that the superconducting energy gap changes sign as a function of the electron momentum, often leading to nodes where the gap goes to zero. We report low-temperature specific heat, thermal conductivity, and magnetic penetration depth measurements in CeCu2Si2, demonstrating the absence of gap nodes at any point on the Fermi surface. Moreover, electron irradiation experiments reveal that the superconductivity survives even when the electron mean free path becomes substantially shorter than the superconducting coherence length. This indicates that superconductivity is robust against impurities, implying that there is no sign change in the gap function. These results show that, contrary to long-standing belief, heavy electrons with extremely strong Coulomb repulsions can condense into a fully gapped s-wave superconducting state, which has an on-site attractive pairing interaction.

Keywords
  • Superconductivity
  • Strongly Correlated Electrons
  • heavy-fermion materials
  • pairing symmetry
  • unconventional superconductors

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