Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

No mixing of superconductivity and antiferromagnetism in a high-temperature superconductor


There is still no universally accepted theory of high-temperature superconductivity. Most models assume that doping creates ‘holes’ in the valence band of an insulating, antiferromagnetic ‘parent’ compound, and that antiferromagnetism and high-temperature superconductivity are intimately related1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8. If their respective energies are nearly equal, strong antiferromagnetic fluctuations (temporally and spatially restricted antiferromagnetic domains) would be expected in the superconductive phase, and superconducting fluctuations would be expected in the antiferromagnetic phase7; the two states should ‘mix’ over an extended length scale8. Here we report that one-unit-cell-thick antiferromagnetic La2CuO4 barrier layers remain highly insulating and completely block a supercurrent; the characteristic decay length is 1 Å, indicating that the two phases do not mix. We likewise found that isolated one-unit-cell-thick layers of La1.85Sr0.15CuO4 remain superconducting. The latter further implies that, on doping, new electronic states are created near the middle of the bandgap. These two findings are in conflict with most proposed models, with a few notable exceptions that include postulated spin–charge separation2.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Get just this article for as long as you need it


Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1: The structure of the SIS ‘sandwich’ junctions studied here.
Figure 2: Transport in SIS junctions.
Figure 3: A ‘reverse’ experiment showing that 1UC-thick layers of LSCO remain superconducting. A superlattice film was synthesized by alternating 2UC-thick layers of insulating LCO and 1UC-thick layers of LSCO, as illustrated schematically in the inset; the actual film has 20 super-periods, and its total thickness is 79 nm.


  1. Anderson, P. W. The Theory of Superconductivity in the High-Tc Cuprate Superconductors (Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, 1997)

    Google Scholar 

  2. Anderson, P. W. Spin-charge separation is the key to the high Tc cuprates. Physica C 341–348, 9–10 (2000)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  3. Kivelson, S. A., Rokhsar, D. S. & Sethna, J. P. Topology of the resonating valence-bond state: Solitons and high-Tc superconductivity. Phys. Rev. B 35, 8865–8868 (1987)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Zaanen, J. & Gunnarsson, O. Charged magnetic domain lines and the magnetism of high-Tc oxides. Phys. Rev. B 40, 7391–7394 (1989)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Fisher, D. S., Kotliar, G. & Moeller, G. Midgap states in doped Mott insulators in infinite dimensions. Phys. Rev. B 52, 17112–17118 (1995)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Kampf, A. & Schrieffer, J. R. Pseudogaps and the spin-bag approach to high-Tc superconductivity. Phys. Rev. B 41, 6399–6408 (1990)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Zhang, S. C. A unified theory based on SO(5) symmetry of superconductivity and antiferromagnetism. Science 275, 1089–1096 (1997)

    Article  MathSciNet  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Demler, E., Berlinsky, A. J., Kallin, C., Arnold, G. B. & Beasley, M. R. Proximity effect and Josephson coupling in the SO(5) theory of high-Tc superconductivity. Phys. Rev. Lett. 80, 2917–2920 (1998)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Bozovic, I. Atomic-layer engineering of superconducting oxides: Yesterday, today, tomorrow. IEEE Trans. Appl. Supercond. 11, 2686–2695 (2001)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  10. Bozovic, I., Logvenov, G., Belca, I., Narimbetov, B. & Sveklo, I. Epitaxial strain and superconductivity in La2-xSrxCuO4 thin films. Phys. Rev. Lett. 89, 100700 (2002)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  11. Golubov, A. A. et al. Resonant tunneling in Y(Dy)Ba2Cu3O7-δ/PrBa2Cu3-xGaxO7-δ/Y(Dy)Ba2Cu3O7-δ ramp-type Josephson junctions. Physica C 235–240, 3261–3262 (1994)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  12. Bozovic, I. & Eckstein, J. N. Transport in atomically engineered BiSrCaCuO multilayers. J. Supercond. 8, 537–540 (1995)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Wolf, E. L. Principles of Electron Tunneling Spectroscopy 36–45 (Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford, 1989)

    Google Scholar 

  14. Bozovic, I., Eckstein, J. N., Klausmeier-Brown, M. E. & Virshup, G. F. Superconductivity in epitaxial Bi2Sr2CuO6/Bi2Sr2CaCu2O8 superlattices: The superconducting behavior of ultrathin cuprate slabs. J. Supercond. 5, 19–23 (1992)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Thio, T., Birgeneau, R. J., Cassanho, A. & Kastner, M. A. Determination of the energy gap for charged excitations in insulating La2CuO4 . Phys. Rev. B 42, 10800–10803 (1990)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. Uchida, S. et al. Optical spectra of La2-xSrxCuO4: Effect of carrier doping on the electronic structure of the CuO2 plane. Phys. Rev. B 43, 7942–7954 (1991)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. Kirillov, D., Bozovic, I., Char, K. & Kapitulnik, A. Resonance effects in Raman scattering in YBa2Cu3O7 . J. Appl. Phys. 66, 977–979 (1989)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  18. Gor'kov, L. P. & Sokol, A. V. Phase stratification of an electron liquid in the new superconductors. JETP Lett. 46, 420–423 (1987)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  19. Emery, V. J. & Kivelson, S. A. Frustrated electronic phase separation and high-temperature superconductors. Physica C 209, 597–621 (1993)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  20. Alexandrov, A. S. & Mott, N. Polarons and Bipolarons (World Scientific, Singapore, 1995)

    Google Scholar 

  21. Varma, C. M., Littlewood, P. B., Schmitt–Rink, S., Abrahams, E. & Ruckenstein, A. E. Phenomenology of the normal state of Cu-O high-temperature superconductors. Phys. Rev. Lett. 63, 1996–1999 (1989); erratum: Phys. Rev. Lett. 64, 497 (1990)

    Article  ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. Ando, Y., Boebinger, G. S., Passner, A., Kimura, T. & Kishio, K. Logarithmic divergence of both in-plane and out-of-plane normal-state resistivities of superconducting La2-xSrxCuO4 in the zero-temperature limit. Phys. Rev. Lett. 75, 4662–4665 (1995)

    Article  ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. Anderson, P. W. & Zou, Z. “Normal” tunneling and “normal” transport: Diagnostics for the resonating-valence-bond state. Phys. Rev. Lett. 60, 132–135 (1988)

    Article  ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references


We acknowledge discussions with M. R. Beasley, A. Leggett, G. A. Sawatzky, S. Kivelson, A. Tsvelik, P. Stamp, S. C. Zhang, A. Kleinsasser, A. Abrikosov, A. Millis, R. Dynes and S. Chakraverty. We thank I. Sveklo, B. Narimbetov and I. Belca for technical help. This work was supported in part by AFOSR.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to I. Bozovic.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Bozovic, I., Logvenov, G., Verhoeven, M. et al. No mixing of superconductivity and antiferromagnetism in a high-temperature superconductor. Nature 422, 873–875 (2003).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing