Unconventional short-range structural fluctuations in cuprate superconductors

Damjan Pelc, Richard J Spieker, Zach Anderson, M. J. Krogstad, N. Biniskos, N. G. Bielinski, Biqiong Yu, T. Sasagawa, L. Chauviere, P. Dosanjh, R. Liang, D. A. Bonn, A. Damascelli, S. Chi, Y. Liu, R. Osborn, M. Greven

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

The interplay between structural and electronic degrees of freedom in complex materials is the subject of extensive debate in physics and materials science. Particularly interesting questions pertain to the nature and extent of pre-transitional short-range order in diverse systems ranging from shape-memory alloys to unconventional superconductors, and how this microstructure affects macroscopic properties. Here we use neutron and X-ray diffuse scattering to uncover universal structural fluctuations in La2-xSrxCuO4 and Tl2Ba2CuO6+δ, two cuprate superconductors with distinct point disorder effects and with optimal superconducting transition temperatures that differ by more than a factor of two. The fluctuations are present in wide doping and temperature ranges, including compositions that maintain high average structural symmetry, and they exhibit unusual, yet simple scaling behaviour. The scaling regime is robust and universal, similar to the well-known critical fluctuations close to second-order phase transitions, but with a distinctly different physical origin. We relate this behaviour to pre-transitional phenomena in a broad class of systems with structural and magnetic transitions, and propose an explanation based on rare structural fluctuations caused by intrinsic nanoscale inhomogeneity. We also uncover parallels with superconducting fluctuations, which indicates that the underlying inhomogeneity plays an important role in cuprate physics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20483
JournalScientific reports
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank D. Robinson and S. Rosenkranz for assistance with X-ray scattering experiments, and A. Klein, R. M. Fernandes, C. Leighton, B. Chakoumakos, N. Barišić, R. D. James and B. Shklovskii for discussions and comments. The work at the University of Minnesota was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy through the University of Minnesota Center for Quantum Materials, under Grant No. DE-SC0016371. The work at Argonne was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences, Materials Sciences and Engineering Division. The work in Zagreb was supported by Croatian Science Foundation Grant No. UIP-2020-02-9494. A portion of this research used resources at the High Flux Isotope Reactor and Spallation Neutron Source, DOE Office of Science User Facilities operated by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. This research used resources of the Advanced Photon Source, a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility operated for the DOE Office of Science by Argonne National Laboratory under Contract No. DE-AC02-06CH11357. Work at the University of British Columbia was undertaken thanks in part to funding from the Max Planck-UBC-UTokyo Centre for Quantum Materials and the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, Quantum Materials and Future Technologies Program, in addition to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC’s) Steacie Memorial Fellowships (A.D.); the Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship (A.D.); the Canada Research Chairs Program (A.D.); NSERC, Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI); British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF); and the CIFAR Quantum Materials Program.

Funding Information:
We thank D. Robinson and S. Rosenkranz for assistance with X-ray scattering experiments, and A. Klein, R. M. Fernandes, C. Leighton, B. Chakoumakos, N. Barišić, R. D. James and B. Shklovskii for discussions and comments. The work at the University of Minnesota was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy through the University of Minnesota Center for Quantum Materials, under Grant No. DE-SC0016371. The work at Argonne was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences, Materials Sciences and Engineering Division. The work in Zagreb was supported by Croatian Science Foundation Grant No. UIP-2020-02-9494. A portion of this research used resources at the High Flux Isotope Reactor and Spallation Neutron Source, DOE Office of Science User Facilities operated by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. This research used resources of the Advanced Photon Source, a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility operated for the DOE Office of Science by Argonne National Laboratory under Contract No. DE-AC02-06CH11357. Work at the University of British Columbia was undertaken thanks in part to funding from the Max Planck-UBC-UTokyo Centre for Quantum Materials and the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, Quantum Materials and Future Technologies Program, in addition to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC’s) Steacie Memorial Fellowships (A.D.); the Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship (A.D.); the Canada Research Chairs Program (A.D.); NSERC, Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI); British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF); and the CIFAR Quantum Materials Program.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).

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