Research ArticlePHYSICS

Dynamics of correlation-frozen antinodal quasiparticles in superconducting cuprates

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Science Advances  23 Feb 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 2, eaar1998
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aar1998


Many puzzling properties of high–critical temperature (Tc) superconducting (HTSC) copper oxides have deep roots in the nature of the antinodal quasiparticles, the elementary excitations with wave vector parallel to the Cu–O bonds. These electronic states are most affected by the onset of antiferromagnetic correlations and charge instabilities, and they host the maximum of the anisotropic superconducting gap and pseudogap. We use time-resolved extreme-ultraviolet photoemission with proper photon energy (18 eV) and time resolution (50 fs) to disclose the ultrafast dynamics of the antinodal states in a prototypical HTSC cuprate. After photoinducing a nonthermal charge redistribution within the Cu and O orbitals, we reveal a dramatic momentum-space differentiation of the transient electron dynamics. Whereas the nodal quasiparticle distribution is heated up as in a conventional metal, new quasiparticle states transiently emerge at the antinodes, similarly to what is expected for a photoexcited Mott insulator, where the frozen charges can be released by an impulsive excitation. This transient antinodal metallicity is mapped into the dynamics of the O-2p bands, thus directly demonstrating the intertwining between the low- and high-energy scales that is typical of correlated materials. Our results suggest that the correlation-driven freezing of the electrons moving along the Cu–O bonds, analogous to the Mott localization mechanism, constitutes the starting point for any model of high-Tc superconductivity and other exotic phases of HTSC cuprates.

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