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Hidden magnetism and quantum criticality in the heavy fermion superconductor CeRhIn5


With only a few exceptions that are well understood, conventional superconductivity does not coexist with long-range magnetic order (for example, ref. 1). Unconventional superconductivity, on the other hand, develops near a phase boundary separating magnetically ordered and magnetically disordered phases2,3. A maximum in the superconducting transition temperature Tc develops where this boundary extrapolates to zero Kelvin, suggesting that fluctuations associated with this magnetic quantum-critical point are essential for unconventional superconductivity4,5. Invariably, though, unconventional superconductivity masks the magnetic phase boundary when T < Tc, preventing proof of a magnetic quantum-critical point5. Here we report specific-heat measurements of the pressure-tuned unconventional superconductor CeRhIn5 in which we find a line of quantum–phase transitions induced inside the superconducting state by an applied magnetic field. This quantum-critical line separates a phase of coexisting antiferromagnetism and superconductivity from a purely unconventional superconducting phase, and terminates at a quantum tetracritical point where the magnetic field completely suppresses superconductivity. The T → 0 K magnetic field–pressure phase diagram of CeRhIn5 is well described with a theoretical model6,7 developed to explain field-induced magnetism in the high-Tc copper oxides, but in which a clear delineation of quantum–phase boundaries has not been possible. These experiments establish a common relationship among hidden magnetism, quantum criticality and unconventional superconductivity in copper oxides and heavy-electron systems such as CeRhIn5.

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Figure 1: Schematic temperature–control parameter ( T δ ) phase diagram common to classes of unconventional superconductors.
Figure 2: Specific heat divided by temperature as a function of temperature for CeRhIn 5 at fixed magnetic fields.
Figure 3: Measurements of field and pressure dependence.
Figure 4: The field–temperature–pressure phase diagram of the heavy fermion superconductor CeRhIn5.


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The authors thank Y. K. Bang, A. V. Balatsky and N. J. Curro for discussions. Work at Los Alamos National Laboratory was performed under the auspices of the United States Department of Energy Office of Science. H.Q.Y. acknowledges an ICAM postdoctoral fellowship.

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Correspondence to Tuson Park.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Methods

Details of ac calorimetric measurements under pressure. (DOC 23 kb)

Supplementary Figure

H-T phase diagram of CeRhIn5 at various pressures, showing the evolution of the coexisting phase of SC and AFM with pressure. (DOC 271 kb)

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Park, T., Ronning, F., Yuan, H. et al. Hidden magnetism and quantum criticality in the heavy fermion superconductor CeRhIn5. Nature 440, 65–68 (2006).

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