Broken translational and rotational symmetry via charge stripe order in underdoped YBa2Cu3O6+y

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Science  20 Mar 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6228, pp. 1335-1339
DOI: 10.1126/science.1258399

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Picking out the elusive stripes

Copper-oxide superconductors have periodic modulations of charge density. Typically, the modulation is not the same for the whole crystal, but breaks up into small nanosized domains. Bulk experiments show that the density is modulated along both axes in the copper-oxide plane, but it is not clear whether this is true only on the scale of the whole crystal or also locally, for each domain. Comin et al. analyzed the charge order in the compound YBa2Cu3O6+y, using resonant x-ray scattering, and found that it was consistent with a local unidirectional, so-called stripy, ordering.

Science, this issue p. 1335


After the discovery of stripelike order in lanthanum-based copper oxide superconductors, charge-ordering instabilities were observed in all cuprate families. However, it has proven difficult to distinguish between unidirectional (stripes) and bidirectional (checkerboard) charge order in yttrium- and bismuth-based materials. We used resonant x-ray scattering to measure the two-dimensional structure factor in the superconductor YBa2Cu3O6+y in reciprocal space. Our data reveal the presence of charge stripe order (i.e., locally unidirectional density waves), which may represent the true microscopic nature of charge modulation in cuprates. At the same time, we find that the well-established competition between charge order and superconductivity is stronger for charge correlations across the stripes than along them, which provides additional evidence for the intrinsic unidirectional nature of the charge order.

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