Mirror symmetry breaking in a model insulating cuprate

A. de la Torre, K. L. Seyler, L. Zhao, S. Di Matteo, M. S. Scheurer, Y. Li, B. Yu, M. Greven, S. Sachdev, M. R. Norman, D. Hsieh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Among the most actively studied issues in the cuprates are the natures of the pseudogap and strange metal states and their relationship to superconductivity1. There is general agreement that the low-energy physics of the Mott-insulating parent state is well captured by a two-dimensional spin S = 1/2 antiferromagnetic Heisenberg model2. However, recent observations of a large thermal Hall conductivity in several parent cuprates appear to defy this simple model and suggest proximity to a magneto-chiral state that breaks all mirror planes that are perpendicular to the CuO2 layers3–6. Here we use optical second harmonic generation to directly resolve the point group symmetries of the model parent cuprate Sr2CuO2Cl2. We report evidence of an order parameter that breaks all perpendicular mirror planes and is consistent with a magneto-chiral state in zero magnetic field. Although this order is clearly coupled to the antiferromagnetism, we are unable to realize its time-reversed partner by thermal cycling through the antiferromagnetic transition temperature or by sampling different spatial locations. This suggests that the order onsets above the Néel temperature and may be relevant to the mechanism of pseudogap formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)777-781
Number of pages5
JournalNature Physics
Volume17
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.

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