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Discovery of orbital-selective Cooper pairing in FeSe

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Science  07 Jul 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6346, pp. 75-80
DOI: 10.1126/science.aal1575

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A deeper look into iron selenide

In the past 10 years, iron-based superconductors have created more puzzles than they have helped resolve. Some of the most fundamental outstanding questions are how strong the interactions are and what the electron pairing mechanism is. Now two groups have made contributions toward resolving these questions in the intriguing compound iron selenide (FeSe) (see the Perspective by Lee). Gerber et al. used photoemission spectroscopy coupled with x-ray diffraction to find that FeSe has a very sizable electron-phonon interaction. Quasiparticle interference imaging helped Sprau et al. determine the shape of the superconducting gap and find that the electron pairing in FeSe is orbital-selective.

Science, this issue p. 71, p. 75; see also p. 32

Abstract

The superconductor iron selenide (FeSe) is of intense interest owing to its unusual nonmagnetic nematic state and potential for high-temperature superconductivity. But its Cooper pairing mechanism has not been determined. We used Bogoliubov quasiparticle interference imaging to determine the Fermi surface geometry of the electronic bands surrounding the Γ = (0, 0) and X = (π/aFe, 0) points of FeSe and to measure the corresponding superconducting energy gaps. We show that both gaps are extremely anisotropic but nodeless and that they exhibit gap maxima oriented orthogonally in momentum space. Moreover, by implementing a novel technique, we demonstrate that these gaps have opposite sign with respect to each other. This complex gap configuration reveals the existence of orbital-selective Cooper pairing that, in FeSe, is based preferentially on electrons from the dyz orbitals of the iron atoms.

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