Nematicity in stripe-ordered cuprates probed via resonant x-ray scattering

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Science  05 Feb 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6273, pp. 576-578
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad1824

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Disentangling intertwined orders

In copper oxide superconductors, several types of order compete for supremacy. In addition to superconductivity, researchers have found periodic patterns in charge density (CDW order), as well as an asymmetry in the electronic density within the unit cell of some cuprates (nematicity). CDW order has been detected in the underdoped regime of all major cuprate families, but the ubiquity of nematicity is less clear. Achkar et al. used resonant x-ray scattering to find that, in the copper oxide planes of three lanthanum-based cuprates, nematicity has a temperature dependence distinct from that of a related structural distortion. This implies that there are additional, electronic mechanisms for nematicity

Science, this issue p. 576


In underdoped cuprate superconductors, a rich competition occurs between superconductivity and charge density wave (CDW) order. Whether rotational symmetry-breaking (nematicity) occurs intrinsically and generically or as a consequence of other orders is under debate. Here, we employ resonant x-ray scattering in stripe-ordered superconductors (La,M)2CuO4 to probe the relationship between electronic nematicity of the Cu 3d orbitals, structure of the (La,M)2O2 layers, and CDW order. We find distinct temperature dependences for the structure of the (La,M)2O2 layers and the electronic nematicity of the CuO2 planes, with only the latter being enhanced by the onset of CDW order. These results identify electronic nematicity as an order parameter that is distinct from a purely structural order parameter in underdoped striped cuprates.

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