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Optically enhanced coherent transport in YBa2Cu3O6.5 by ultrafast redistribution of interlayer coupling

Nature Materials volume 13, pages 705711 (2014) | Download Citation

Abstract

Nonlinear optical excitation of infrared active lattice vibrations has been shown to melt magnetic or orbital orders and to transform insulators into metals. In cuprates, this technique has been used to remove charge stripes and promote superconductivity, acting in a way opposite to static magnetic fields. Here, we show that excitation of large-amplitude apical oxygen distortions in the cuprate superconductor YBa2Cu3O6.5 promotes highly unconventional electronic properties. Below the superconducting transition temperature (Tc = 50 K) inter-bilayer coherence is transiently enhanced at the expense of intra-bilayer coupling. Strikingly, even above Tc a qualitatively similar effect is observed up to room temperature, with transient inter-bilayer coherence emerging from the incoherent ground state and similar transfer of spectral weight from high to low frequency. These observations are compatible with previous reports of an inhomogeneous normal state that retains important properties of a superconductor, in which light may be melting competing orders or dynamically synchronizing the interlayer phase. The transient redistribution of coherence discussed here could lead to new strategies to enhance superconductivity in steady state.

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Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to J. Orenstein, S Kivelson, D. Basov, D. van der Marel, C. Bernhard, A. Leitenstorfer and L. Zhang for extensive discussions, for their many suggestions and advice on the data analysis. Technical support from J. Harms and H. Liu is acknowledged.

Author information

Author notes

    • W. Hu
    • , S. Kaiser
    • , D. Nicoletti
    •  & C. R. Hunt

    These authors contributed equally to this work.

Affiliations

  1. Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter, 22761 Hamburg, Germany

    • W. Hu
    • , S. Kaiser
    • , D. Nicoletti
    • , C. R. Hunt
    • , I. Gierz
    • , M. C. Hoffmann
    •  & A. Cavalleri
  2. Department of Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA

    • C. R. Hunt
  3. Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research, 70569 Stuttgart, Germany

    • M. Le Tacon
    • , T. Loew
    •  & B. Keimer
  4. Department of Physics, Oxford University, Clarendon Laboratory, Oxford OX1 3PU, UK

    • A. Cavalleri

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Contributions

A.C. conceived the project. W.H. and I.G. performed the measurements with broadband gas source. D.N., C.R.H. and S.K. performed the narrowband measurements. W.H., C.R.H., D.N. and I.G. analysed the data and discussed results with all authors. W.H. built the mid-infrared pump–broadband terahertz probe set-up with the support of M.C.H. The mid-infrared pump–narrowband terahertz probe set-up was built by S.K. and D.N. YBa2Cu3O6.5 single crystals were synthesized by T.L., with guidance from M.L.T. and B.K. The manuscript was written by A.C. together with W.H. and S.K., and with input from all authors.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to A. Cavalleri.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat3963

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