Fermi Surface and Pseudogap Evolution in a Cuprate Superconductor

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Science  09 May 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6184, pp. 608-611
DOI: 10.1126/science.1248221

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Under the Dome

The superconducting transition temperature Tc of copper oxides has a dome-shaped dependence on chemical doping. Whether there is a quantum critical point (QCP) beneath the dome, and whether it is related to the enigmatic pseudogap, has been heavily debated. Two papers address this question in two different families of Bi-based cuprates. In (Bi,Pb)2(Sr,La)2CuO6+δ, He et al. (p. 608) found that the Fermi surface (FS) undergoes a topological change as doping is increased, which points to the existence of a QCP at a doping close to the maximum in Tc, seemingly uncorrelated with the pseudogap. Fujita et al. (p. 612) studied a range of dopings in Bi2Sr2CaCu2O8+δ to find an FS reconstruction simultaneous with the disappearance of both rotational and translational symmetry breaking, the latter of which has been associated with the pseudogap. These findings point to a concealed QCP.


The unclear relationship between cuprate superconductivity and the pseudogap state remains an impediment to understanding the high transition temperature (Tc) superconducting mechanism. Here, we used magnetic field–dependent scanning tunneling microscopy to provide phase-sensitive proof that d-wave superconductivity coexists with the pseudogap on the antinodal Fermi surface of an overdoped cuprate. Furthermore, by tracking the hole-doping (p) dependence of the quasi-particle interference pattern within a single bismuth-based cuprate family, we observed a Fermi surface reconstruction slightly below optimal doping, indicating a zero-field quantum phase transition in notable proximity to the maximum superconducting Tc. Surprisingly, this major reorganization of the system’s underlying electronic structure has no effect on the smoothly evolving pseudogap.

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