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Spin correlations in the electron-doped high-transition-temperature superconductor Nd2-xCexCuOδ

Abstract

High-transition-temperature (high-Tc) superconductivity develops near antiferromagnetic phases, and it is possible that magnetic excitations contribute to the superconducting pairing mechanism. To assess the role of antiferromagnetism, it is essential to understand the doping and temperature dependence of the two-dimensional antiferromagnetic spin correlations. The phase diagram is asymmetric with respect to electron and hole doping, and for the comparatively less-studied electron-doped materials, the antiferromagnetic phase extends much further with doping1,2 and appears to overlap with the superconducting phase. The archetypal electron-doped compound Nd2-xCexCuOδ (NCCO) shows bulk superconductivity above x ≈ 0.13 (refs 3, 4), while evidence for antiferromagnetic order has been found up to x ≈ 0.17 (refs 2, 5, 6). Here we report inelastic magnetic neutron-scattering measurements that point to the distinct possibility that genuine long-range antiferromagnetism and superconductivity do not coexist. The data reveal a magnetic quantum critical point where superconductivity first appears, consistent with an exotic quantum phase transition between the two phases7. We also demonstrate that the pseudogap phenomenon in the electron-doped materials, which is associated with pronounced charge anomalies8,9,10,11, arises from a build-up of spin correlations, in agreement with recent theoretical proposals12,13.

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Figure 1: The temperature–doping phase diagram for oxygen-reduced NCCO.
Figure 2: Representative two-axis scans used to measure the spin correlation length.
Figure 3: The temperature dependence of the spin correlation length at various cerium concentrations.
Figure 4: Spin stiffness, spin correlations at low-temperature, apparent Néel temperature, and spin correlations along T*.

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Acknowledgements

We thank N. Bontemps, S. Chakravarty, S. A. Kivelson, R. S. Markiewicz and A.-M. S. Tremblay for discussions. The work at Stanford University was supported by grants from the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. E.M.M. acknowledges support through the NSF Graduate Fellowship programme.

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Motoyama, E., Yu, G., Vishik, I. et al. Spin correlations in the electron-doped high-transition-temperature superconductor Nd2-xCexCuOδ. Nature 445, 186–189 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature05437

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