Zero-doping state and electron–hole asymmetry in an ambipolar cuprate

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A Mott insulator is a material that is insulating because of strong Coulomb repulsions between electrons. Doping charge carriers, electrons or holes into a Mott insulator can induce high-temperature superconductivity. Thus, what exactly happens when a charge carrier is doped into a Mott insulator is a key question in many-body physics1,2,3,4. To address this issue, ideally one should start from a zero-doping state5,6,7 and be able to introduce both holes and electrons in the dilute limit. However, such an idealized experiment has been impossible because of the lack of suitable materials. Here we show that a new ‘ambipolar’ cuprate makes it possible for the first time to cross the zero-doping state in the same material, which in turn allows us to address the physics of the extremely low-doping region. Surprisingly, we found that the antiferromagnetic ground state sharply changes between electron- and hole-doped sides, and this change is dictated by the existence of only 0.1 ppm of charge carriers. Moreover, we observed that the Néel temperature TN shows an unexpected reduction in a narrow range centred at the zero-doping state, across which the system exhibits asymmetric behaviours in transport measurements. Our findings reveal the inherently different nature of electron and hole doping in the dilute limit of a Mott-insulating cuprate.

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Figure 1: Schematics of YLBLCO.
Figure 2: Temperature dependence of ρc.
Figure 3: Magnetic ground states of YLBLCO studied by neutron scattering.
Figure 4: Evolution of key parameters in YLBLCO.


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We thank E. Dagotto, P. Phillips and T. Tohyama for discussions. This work was supported by KAKENHI Grant Nos 19674002, 20030004, 19340090, 19540358 and 20740196. Works at UVA and at NCNR were supported by US DOE (BES-DMSE) Award No. DE-FE02-07ER46384 and NSF Award No. DMR-0454672, respectively.

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All authors made critical comments on the manuscript. Y.A., K.S., S-H.L. and K.Y. contributed to planning of the experiments. K.S. synthesized the sample and carried out the transport measurements. K.S. and Y.A. analysed and interpreted the transport data. M.K., S-H.L., H.H., M.F., S.C. and K.Y. contributed to data collection of the neutron scattering. M.K., S-H.L. and K.Y. contributed to analysing the neutron data.

Correspondence to K. Yamada or Yoichi Ando.

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Segawa, K., Kofu, M., Lee, S. et al. Zero-doping state and electron–hole asymmetry in an ambipolar cuprate. Nature Phys 6, 579–583 (2010) doi:10.1038/nphys1717

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