Article | Published:

Emergence of superconductivity from the dynamically heterogeneous insulating state in La2−xSrxCuO4

Nature Materials volume 12, pages 4751 (2013) | Download Citation

Abstract

A central issue for copper oxides is the nature of the insulating ground state at low carrier densities and the emergence of high-temperature superconductivity from that state with doping. Even though this superconductor–insulator transition (SIT) is a zero-temperature transition, measurements are not usually carried out at low temperatures. Here we use magnetoresistance to probe both the insulating state at very low temperatures and the presence of superconducting fluctuations in La2−xSrxCuO4 films, for doping levels that range from the insulator to the superconductor (x  =  0.03–0.08). We observe that the charge glass behaviour, characteristic of the insulating state, is suppressed with doping, but it coexists with superconducting fluctuations that emerge already on the insulating side of the SIT. The unexpected quenching of the superconducting fluctuations by the competing charge order at low temperatures provides a new perspective on the mechanism for the SIT.

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Acknowledgements

We thank V. Dobrosavljević for discussions. The work by X.S. and D.P. was supported by NSF/DMR-0905843 and the NHMFL, which is supported by NSF/DMR-0654118 and the State of Florida. I.B., G.L. and A.T.B. were supported by the US Department of Energy, Basic Energy Sciences, Materials Sciences and Engineering. C.P. was supported by EURYI, MEXT-CT-2006-039047 and the National Research Foundation, Singapore.

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Affiliations

  1. National High Magnetic Field Laboratory and Department of Physics, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida 32310, USA

    • Xiaoyan Shi
    •  & Dragana Popović
  2. Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, New York 11973, USA

    • G. Logvenov
    • , A. T. Bollinger
    •  & I. Božović
  3. Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research, Heisenbergstrasse 1, D-70569 Stuttgart, Germany

    • G. Logvenov
  4. Department of Physics, University of Crete and FORTH, GR-71003 Heraklion, Greece

    • C. Panagopoulos
  5. Division of Physics and Applied Physics, Nanyang Technological University, 637371 Singapore, Singapore

    • C. Panagopoulos

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Contributions

D.P. and C.P. conceived the project; the films were synthesized and characterized by G.L. and I.B., and patterned by A.T.B.; X.S. designed the masks for lithography, helped with the patterning, performed the measurements and analysed the data; X.S., I.B., C.P. and D.P. wrote the manuscript; D.P. planned and supervised the investigation.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dragana Popović.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat3487

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