Many puzzling properties of high-critical temperature (Tc) superconducting (HTSC) copper oxides have deep roots in the nature of the antinodal quasiparticles, the elementary excitations with wave vector parallel to the Cu-O bonds. These electronic states are most affected by the onset of antiferromagnetic correlations and charge instabilities, and they host the maximum of the anisotropic superconducting gap and pseudogap. We use time-resolved extremeultraviolet photoemission with proper photon energy (18 eV) and time resolution (50 fs) to disclose the ultrafast dynamics of the antinodal states in a prototypical HTSC cuprate. After photoinducing a nonthermal charge redistribution within the Cu and O orbitals, we reveal a dramatic momentum-space differentiation of the transient electron dynamics. Whereas the nodal quasiparticle distribution is heated up as in a conventional metal, new quasiparticle states transiently emerge at the antinodes, similarly to what is expected for a photoexcited Mott insulator, where the frozen charges can be released by an impulsive excitation. This transient antinodal metallicity is mapped into the dynamics of the O-2p bands, thus directly demonstrating the intertwining between the lowand high-energy scales that is typical of correlated materials. Our results suggest that the correlation-driven freezing of the electrons moving along the Cu-O bonds, analogous to the Mott localization mechanism, constitutes the starting point for any model of high-Tc superconductivity and other exotic phases of HTSC cuprates.
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© 2018 The Authors.