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The transport–structural correspondence across the nematic phase transition probed by elasto X-ray diffraction


Electronic nematicity in iron pnictide materials is coupled to both the lattice and the conducting electrons, which allows both structural and transport observables to probe nematic fluctuations and the order parameter. Here we combine simultaneous transport and X-ray diffraction measurements with in-situ tunable strain (elasto X-ray diffraction) to measure the temperature dependence of the shear modulus and elastoresistivity above the nematic transition and the spontaneous orthorhombicity and resistivity anisotropy below the nematic transition, all within a single sample of Ba(Fe0.96Co0.04)2As2. The ratio of transport to structural quantities is nearly temperature independent over a 74 K range and agrees between the ordered and disordered phases. These results show that elasto X-ray diffraction is a powerful technique to probe the nemato-elastic and nemato-transport couplings, which have important implications to the nearby superconductivity. It also enables the measurement in the large strain limit, where the breakdown of the mean-field description reveals the intertwined nature of nematicity.

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Fig. 1: Nematic-elastic-transport coupling.
Fig. 2: Shear modulus and elastoresistivity.
Fig. 3: Spontaneous resistivity anisotropy and orthorhombicity.
Fig. 4: Transport–structural ratio equivalence.

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Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available within the paper and its Supplementary Information. Raw X-ray data are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request. Source data are provided with this paper.


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We thank C. Xu, J.-Y. Chen, R. Fernandes, A. V. Andreev and M. Ikeda for discussions. This work was mainly supported by National Science Foundation’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Center at the University of Washington (DMR-1719797) and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research under grant FA9550-17-1-0217 and grant FA9550-21-1-0068. J.-H.C. acknowledges the support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s EPiQS Initiative, grant GBMF6759 to J.-H.C.; the David and Lucile Packard Foundation; the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; and the Clean Energy Institute funded by the state of Washington. J.L. acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation under grant no. DMR-1848269. This research used resources of the Advanced Photon Source, a US Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility operated for the Department of Energy Office of Science by Argonne National Laboratory under contract no. DE-AC02-06CH11357. J.J.S. was partially supported by the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists, Office of Science Graduate Student Research programme, administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education for the Department of Energy. Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education is managed by Oak Ridge Associated Universities under contract no. DE-SC0014664.

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Authors and Affiliations



J.M. grew the samples. J.J.S. and P.M. did the experiments. P.J.R., J.-W.K. and J.L. helped conceive and design the X-ray diffraction measurements at the Advanced Photon Source. J.J.S. analysed the data. J.-H.C. supervised the project. All authors contributed extensively to the interpretation of the data and the writing of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Jiun-Haw Chu.

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Peer review information Nature Materials thanks the anonymous reviewers for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figs. 1–10 and Discussion.

Supplementary Video

X-ray diffraction data of detwinning process.

Source data

Source Data Fig. 1

The xT phase diagram data.

Source Data Fig. 2

Lattice constant and resistivity data versus strain and orthorhombicity, and extracted shear modulus and elastoresistivity coefficients.

Source Data Fig. 3

X-ray diffraction images of in-line lattice constant across temperature and applied strain; and corresponding resistivity and domain population changes with detwinning, extracted spontaneous resistivity anisotropy and spontaneous orthorhombicity.

Source Data Fig. 4

Extracted spontaneous elastoresistivity proportionality ratios versus temperature; and shear modulus and elastoresistivity Curie–Weiss coefficient data versus doping.

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Sanchez, J.J., Malinowski, P., Mutch, J. et al. The transport–structural correspondence across the nematic phase transition probed by elasto X-ray diffraction. Nat. Mater. 20, 1519–1524 (2021).

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