Quasiparticle mass enhancement approaching optimal doping in a high-Tc superconductor

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Science  17 Apr 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6232, pp. 317-320
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa4990

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Massive electrons signify correlations

Thirty years on, and the mechanism of superconductivity in copper-oxide superconductors remains a mystery. Knowledge of their normal nonsuperconducting state is also incomplete; however, we do know that the more robust the superconductivity, the higher the magnetic fields required to suppress it. Ramshaw et al. studied samples of three different compositions of the copper-oxide YBa2Cu3O6+δ in magnetic fields exceeding 90 T. They found that as the oxygen content increased toward the point of the maximum transition temperature, the conducting electrons became heavier and heavier. This mass enhancement reflected an increase in electronic correlations, which in turn may be a signature of a quantum critical point.

Science, this issue p. 317


In the quest for superconductors with higher transition temperatures (Tc), one emerging motif is that electronic interactions favorable for superconductivity can be enhanced by fluctuations of a broken-symmetry phase. Recent experiments have suggested the existence of the requisite broken-symmetry phase in the high-Tc cuprates, but the impact of such a phase on the ground-state electronic interactions has remained unclear. We used magnetic fields exceeding 90 tesla to access the underlying metallic state of the cuprate YBa2Cu3O6+δ over a wide range of doping, and observed magnetic quantum oscillations that reveal a strong enhancement of the quasiparticle effective mass toward optimal doping. This mass enhancement results from increasing electronic interactions approaching optimal doping, and suggests a quantum critical point at a hole doping of pcrit ≈ 0.18.

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