Letter | Published:

Relating atomic-scale electronic phenomena to wave-like quasiparticle states in superconducting Bi2Sr2CaCu2O8+δ

Abstract

The electronic structure of simple crystalline solids can be completely described in terms either of local quantum states in real space (r-space), or of wave-like states defined in momentum-space (k-space). However, in the copper oxide superconductors, neither of these descriptions alone may be sufficient. Indeed, comparisons between r-space1,2,3,4,5 and k-space6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13 studies of Bi2Sr2CaCu2O8+δ (Bi-2212) reveal numerous unexplained phenomena and apparent contradictions. Here, to explore these issues, we report Fourier transform studies of atomic-scale spatial modulations in the Bi-2212 density of states. When analysed as arising from quasiparticle interference14,15,16, the modulations yield elements of the Fermi-surface and energy gap in agreement with photoemission experiments12,13. The consistency of numerous sets of dispersing modulations with the quasiparticle interference model shows that no additional order parameter is required. We also explore the momentum-space structure of the unoccupied states that are inaccessible to photoemission, and find strong similarities to the structure of the occupied states. The copper oxide quasiparticles therefore apparently exhibit particle–hole mixing similar to that of conventional superconductors. Near the energy gap maximum, the modulations become intense, commensurate with the crystal, and bounded by nanometre-scale domains4. Scattering of the antinodal quasiparticles is therefore strongly influenced by nanometre-scale disorder.

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Acknowledgements

We thank J. C. Campuzano, M. E. Flatté, P. Johnson, S. A. Kivelson, B. Lake, R. B. Laughlin, J. W. Loram, M. Norman, D. J. Scalapino, Z.-X. Shen, J. Tranquada and J. Zaanen for discussions and communications. This work was supported by an LDRD from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the ONR, the NSF, and by Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Priority Area (Japan), a COE grant from the Ministry of Education (Japan), and NEDO (Japan). J.E.H. is grateful for support from a Hertz Fellowship.

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The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests.

Correspondence to J. C. Davis.

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Further reading

Figure 1: The expected wavevectors of quasiparticle interference patterns in a superconductor with electronic band structure like that of Bi-2212.
Figure 2: Atomic resolution images of the LDOS and the resulting Fourier-space images of the wavevectors making up the LDOS modulations.
Figure 3: The measured dispersion of all sets of q-vectors, the resulting FT-STS-derived locus of scattering, the anisotropic energy gap, and the relevant ARPES data for comparison.
Figure 4: The electronic density of states modulations associated with antinodal quasiparticles at energies near the gap maximum.

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