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From a Single-Band Metal to a High-Temperature Superconductor via Two Thermal Phase Transitions

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Science  25 Mar 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6024, pp. 1579-1583
DOI: 10.1126/science.1198415

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Abstract

The nature of the pseudogap phase of cuprate high-temperature superconductors is a major unsolved problem in condensed matter physics. We studied the commencement of the pseudogap state at temperature T* using three different techniques (angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy, polar Kerr effect, and time-resolved reflectivity) on the same optimally doped Bi2201 crystals. We observed the coincident, abrupt onset at T* of a particle-hole asymmetric antinodal gap in the electronic spectrum, a Kerr rotation in the reflected light polarization, and a change in the ultrafast relaxational dynamics, consistent with a phase transition. Upon further cooling, spectroscopic signatures of superconductivity begin to grow close to the superconducting transition temperature (Tc), entangled in an energy-momentum–dependent manner with the preexisting pseudogap features, ushering in a ground state with coexisting orders.

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