Inverse correlation between quasiparticle mass and Tc in a cuprate high-Tc superconductor

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Science Advances  18 Mar 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 3, e1501657
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501657


Close to a zero-temperature transition between ordered and disordered electronic phases, quantum fluctuations can lead to a strong enhancement of electron mass and to the emergence of competing phases such as superconductivity. A correlation between the existence of such a quantum phase transition and superconductivity is quite well established in some heavy fermion and iron-based superconductors, and there have been suggestions that high-temperature superconductivity in copper-oxide materials (cuprates) may also be driven by the same mechanism. Close to optimal doping, where the superconducting transition temperature Tc is maximal in cuprates, two different phases are known to compete with superconductivity: a poorly understood pseudogap phase and a charge-ordered phase. Recent experiments have shown a strong increase in quasiparticle mass m* in the cuprate YBa2Cu3O7-δ as optimal doping is approached, suggesting that quantum fluctuations of the charge-ordered phase may be responsible for the high-Tc superconductivity. We have tested the robustness of this correlation between m* and Tc by performing quantum oscillation studies on the stoichiometric compound YBa2Cu4O8 under hydrostatic pressure. In contrast to the results for YBa2Cu3O7-δ, we find that in YBa2Cu4O8, the mass decreases as Tc increases under pressure. This inverse correlation between m* and Tc suggests that quantum fluctuations of the charge order enhance m* but do not enhance Tc.

  • Cuprate superconductors
  • quantum oscillations
  • high pressure

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