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Title: Spontaneous breaking of rotational symmetry in copper oxide superconductors

Abstract

The origin of high-temperature superconductivity in copper oxides and the nature of the ‘normal’ state above the critical temperature are widely debated. In underdoped copper oxides, this normal state hosts a pseudogap and other anomalous features; and in the overdoped materials, the standard Bardeen–Cooper–Schrieffer description fails, challenging the idea that the normal state is a simple Fermi liquid. To investigate these questions, we have studied the behaviour of single-crystal La2–xSrxCuO4 films through which an electrical current is being passed. Here we report that a spontaneous voltage develops across the sample, transverse (orthogonal) to the electrical current. The dependence of this voltage on probe current, temperature, in-plane device orientation and doping shows that this behaviour is intrinsic, substantial, robust and present over a broad range of temperature and doping. If the current direction is rotated in-plane by an angle $$\phi$$, the transverse voltage oscillates as sin(2$$\phi$$), breaking the four-fold rotational symmetry of the crystal. The amplitude of the oscillations is strongly peaked near the critical temperature for superconductivity and decreases with increasing doping. We find that these phenomena are manifestations of unexpected in-plane anisotropy in the electronic transport. The films are very thin and epitaxially constrained to be tetragonal (that is, with four-fold symmetry), so one expects a constant resistivity and zero transverse voltage, for every $$\phi$$. The origin of this anisotropy is purely electronic—the so-called electronic nematicity. Unusually, the nematic director is not aligned with the crystal axes, unless a substantial orthorhombic distortion is imposed. The fact that this anisotropy occurs in a material that exhibits high-temperature superconductivity may not be a coincidence.

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [2];  [2]
  1. Brookhaven National Lab. (BNL), Upton, NY (United States)
  2. Brookhaven National Lab. (BNL), Upton, NY (United States); Yale Univ., New Haven, CT (United States). Applied Physics
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Brookhaven National Lab. (BNL), Upton, NY (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES)
OSTI Identifier:
1412648
Report Number(s):
BNL-114364-2017-JA
Journal ID: ISSN 0028-0836; R&D Project: MA509MACA; KC0203020
Grant/Contract Number:  
SC0012704
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nature (London)
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Nature (London); Journal Volume: 547; Journal Issue: 7664; Journal ID: ISSN 0028-0836
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
75 CONDENSED MATTER PHYSICS, SUPERCONDUCTIVITY AND SUPERFLUIDITY; electronic properties and materials; superconducting properties and materials

Citation Formats

Wu, J., Bollinger, A. T., He, X., and Božović, I. Spontaneous breaking of rotational symmetry in copper oxide superconductors. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1038/nature23290.
Wu, J., Bollinger, A. T., He, X., & Božović, I. Spontaneous breaking of rotational symmetry in copper oxide superconductors. United States. doi:10.1038/nature23290.
Wu, J., Bollinger, A. T., He, X., and Božović, I. Wed . "Spontaneous breaking of rotational symmetry in copper oxide superconductors". United States. doi:10.1038/nature23290. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1412648.
@article{osti_1412648,
title = {Spontaneous breaking of rotational symmetry in copper oxide superconductors},
author = {Wu, J. and Bollinger, A. T. and He, X. and Božović, I.},
abstractNote = {The origin of high-temperature superconductivity in copper oxides and the nature of the ‘normal’ state above the critical temperature are widely debated. In underdoped copper oxides, this normal state hosts a pseudogap and other anomalous features; and in the overdoped materials, the standard Bardeen–Cooper–Schrieffer description fails, challenging the idea that the normal state is a simple Fermi liquid. To investigate these questions, we have studied the behaviour of single-crystal La2–xSrxCuO4 films through which an electrical current is being passed. Here we report that a spontaneous voltage develops across the sample, transverse (orthogonal) to the electrical current. The dependence of this voltage on probe current, temperature, in-plane device orientation and doping shows that this behaviour is intrinsic, substantial, robust and present over a broad range of temperature and doping. If the current direction is rotated in-plane by an angle $\phi$, the transverse voltage oscillates as sin(2$\phi$), breaking the four-fold rotational symmetry of the crystal. The amplitude of the oscillations is strongly peaked near the critical temperature for superconductivity and decreases with increasing doping. We find that these phenomena are manifestations of unexpected in-plane anisotropy in the electronic transport. The films are very thin and epitaxially constrained to be tetragonal (that is, with four-fold symmetry), so one expects a constant resistivity and zero transverse voltage, for every $\phi$. The origin of this anisotropy is purely electronic—the so-called electronic nematicity. Unusually, the nematic director is not aligned with the crystal axes, unless a substantial orthorhombic distortion is imposed. The fact that this anisotropy occurs in a material that exhibits high-temperature superconductivity may not be a coincidence.},
doi = {10.1038/nature23290},
journal = {Nature (London)},
number = 7664,
volume = 547,
place = {United States},
year = {2017},
month = {7}
}

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