Coherence Factors in a High-Tc Cuprate Probed by Quasi-Particle Scattering Off Vortices

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Science  13 Feb 2009:
Vol. 323, Issue 5916, pp. 923-926
DOI: 10.1126/science.1166138

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When electrons pair in a superconductor, quasi-particles develop an acute sensitivity to different types of scattering potential that is described by the appearance of coherence factors in the scattering amplitudes. Although the effects of coherence factors are well established in isotropic superconductors, they are much harder to detect in their anisotropic counterparts, such as high-superconducting-transition-temperature cuprates. We demonstrate an approach that highlights the momentum-dependent coherence factors in Ca2–xNaxCuO2Cl2. We used Fourier-transform scanning tunneling spectroscopy to reveal a magnetic-field dependence in quasi-particle scattering interference patterns that is sensitive to the sign of the anisotropic gap. This result is associated with the d-wave coherence factors and quasi-particle scattering off vortices. Our technique thus provides insights into the nature of electron pairing as well as quasi-particle scattering processes in unconventional superconductors.

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