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Evidence for stripe correlations of spins and holes in copper oxide superconductors


ONE of the long-standing mysteries associated with the high-temperature copper oxide superconductors concerns the anomalous suppression1 of superconductivity in La2-xBaxCuO4 (and certain related compounds) when the hole concentration x is near . Here we examine the possibility that this effect is related to dynamical two-dimensional spin correlations, incommensurate with the crystal lattice, that have been observed in La2-xSrxCuO4 by neutron scattering2–4. A possible explanation for the incommensurability involves a coupled, dynamical modulation of spin and charge in which antiferromagnetic 'stripes' of copper spins are separated by periodically spaced domain walls to which the holes segregate5–9. An ordered stripe phase of this type has recently been observed in hole-doped La2NiO4 (refs 10–12). We present evidence from neutron diffraction that in the copper oxide material La1.6-xNd0.4SrxCuO4, with x = 0.12, a static analogue of the dynamical stripe phase is present, and is associated with an anomalous suppression of superconductivity13,14. Our results thus provide an explanation of the '' conundrum, and also support the suggestion15 that spatial modulations of spin and charge density are related to superconductivity in the copper oxides.

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Tranquada, J., Sternlieb, B., Axe, J. et al. Evidence for stripe correlations of spins and holes in copper oxide superconductors. Nature 375, 561–563 (1995).

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