The possibility of driving phase transitions in low-density condensates through the loss of phase coherence alone has far-reaching implications for the study of quantum phases of matter. This has inspired the development of tools to control and explore the collective properties of condensate phases via phase fluctuations. Electrically gated oxide interfaces1,2, ultracold Fermi atoms3,4 and cuprate superconductors5,6, which are characterized by an intrinsically small phase stiffness, are paradigmatic examples where these tools are having a dramatic impact. Here we use light pulses shorter than the internal thermalization time to drive and probe the phase fragility of the Bi2Sr2CaCu2O8+δ cuprate superconductor, completely melting the superconducting condensate without affecting the pairing strength. The resulting ultrafast dynamics of phase fluctuations and charge excitations are captured and disentangled by time-resolved photoemission spectroscopy. This work demonstrates the dominant role of phase coherence in the superconductor-to-normal state phase transition and offers a benchmark for non-equilibrium spectroscopic investigations of the cuprate phase diagram.
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We thank L. Benfatto, A. Chubukov and M. Franz for useful and fruitful discussions. C.G. acknowledges financial support from MIUR through the PRIN 2015 Programme (Prot. 2015C5SEJJ001) and from Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore through D.1, D.2.2 and D.3.1 grants. This research was undertaken thanks in part to funding from the Max Planck-UBC-UTokyo Centre for Quantum Materials and the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, Quantum Materials and Future Technologies Program. The work at UBC was supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation's EPiQS Initiative, grant GBMF4779, the Killam, Alfred P. Sloan and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada's (NSERCs) Steacie Memorial Fellowships (A.D.), the Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship (A.D.), the Canada Research Chairs Program (A.D.), NSERC, Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), CIFAR Quantum Materials and CIFAR Global Scholars (E.H.d.S.N.). E.R. acknowledges support from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) grant no. P300P2-164649. G.D.G. is supported by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Division of Materials Sciences and Engineering, US Department of Energy under contract no. DE-AC02-98CH10886. J.S. and R.D.Z. are supported by the Center for Emergent Superconductivity, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the US Department of Energy, Office of Science.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Boschini, F., da Silva Neto, E.H., Razzoli, E. et al. Collapse of superconductivity in cuprates via ultrafast quenching of phase coherence. Nature Mater 17, 416–420 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41563-018-0045-1
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