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Hidden magnetism and quantum criticality in the heavy fermion superconductor CeRhIn5

Nature volume 440, pages 6568 (02 March 2006) | Download Citation



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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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.

Author information


  1. Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico 87545, USA

    • Tuson Park
    • , F. Ronning
    • , R. Movshovich
    • , J. L. Sarrao
    •  & J. D. Thompson
  2. Department of Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA

    • H. Q. Yuan
    •  & M. B. Salamon


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Reprints and permissions information is available at npg.nature.com/reprintsandpermissions. The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Tuson Park.

Supplementary information

Word documents

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Methods

    Details of ac calorimetric measurements under pressure.

  2. 2.

    Supplementary Figure

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

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