Anisotropic Violation of the Wiedemann-Franz Law at a Quantum Critical Point

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Science  01 Jun 2007:
Vol. 316, Issue 5829, pp. 1320-1322
DOI: 10.1126/science.1140762

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A quantum critical point transforms the behavior of electrons so strongly that new phases of matter can emerge. The interactions at play are known to fall outside the scope of the standard model of metals, but a fundamental question remains: Is the basic concept of a quasiparticle—a fermion with renormalized mass—still valid in such systems? The Wiedemann-Franz law, which states that the ratio of heat and charge conductivities in a metal is a universal constant in the limit of zero temperature, is a robust consequence of Fermi-Dirac statistics. We report a violation of this law in the heavy-fermion metal CeCoIn5 when tuned to its quantum critical point, depending on the direction of electron motion relative to the crystal lattice, which points to an anisotropic destruction of the Fermi surface.

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