Quenched nematic criticality and two superconducting domes in an iron-based superconductor

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The nematic electronic state and its associated critical fluctuations have emerged as a potential candidate for the superconducting pairing in various unconventional superconductors. However, in most materials their coexistence with magnetically ordered phases poses a significant challenge in determining their importance. Here, by combining chemical and hydrostatic physical pressure in FeSe0.89S0.11, we access a nematic quantum phase transition isolated from any other competing magnetic phases. From quantum oscillations in high magnetic fields, we trace the evolution of the Fermi surface and electronic correlations as a function of applied pressure and detect a Lifshitz transition that separates two distinct superconducting regions. One emerges from the nematic phase with a small Fermi surface and strong electronic correlations, while the other one has a large Fermi surface and weak correlations that promotes nesting and stabilization of a magnetically ordered phase at high pressures. The absence of mass divergence at the nematic quantum phase transition suggests that the nematic fluctuations could be quenched by the strong coupling to the lattice or local strain effects. A direct consequence is the weakening of superconductivity at the nematic quantum phase transition in the absence of magnetically driven fluctuations.

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Fig. 1: Transport under pressure in FeSe0.89S0.11.
Fig. 2: Evolution of quantum oscillations with pressure in FeSe0.89S0.11.
Fig. 3: Pressure tuning of Fermi surface and electronic correlations.
Fig. 4: Pressure–temperature phase diagrams.

Data availability

The experimental data in our manuscript are available through the ORA depository at the University of Oxford at https://doi.org/10.5287/bodleian:2REyEPKZX. Other information is available from the corresponding authors upon reasonable request.


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We thank P. Cai for technical support with setting up the Physical Property Measurement System pressure cell and A. Chubukov, E. Berg, R. Fernandes, I. Paul, R. Valenti, I. Vekhter, M. Watson, Z. Zajicek, S. Parameswaran and S. Simon for useful discussions and comments. This work was mainly supported by the EPSRC (EP/I004475/1, EP/I017836/1). A.A.H. acknowledges the financial support of the Oxford Quantum Materials Platform Grant (EP/M020517/1). A portion of this work was performed at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, which is supported by National Science Foundation Cooperative Agreement No. DMR-1157490 and the State of Florida. Part of this work was supported by HFML-RU/FOM and LNCMI-CNRS, members of the European Magnetic Field Laboratory (EMFL) and by EPSRC (UK) via its membership to the EMFL (grant no. EP/N01085X/1). Part of this work at the LNCMI was supported by Programme Investissements d’Avenir under the programme ANR-11-IDEX-0002-02, reference ANR-10-LABX-0037-NEXT. A.I.C. acknowledges the hospitality of KITP supported by the National Science Foundation under grant no. NSF PHY- 1125915. We also acknowledge financial support of the John Fell Fund of Oxford University. A.I.C. acknowledges an EPSRC Career Acceleration Fellowship (EP/I004475/1) and Oxford Centre for Applied Superconductivity.

Author information

A.I.C. proposed and supervised the project. P.R., D.G. and A.I.C. performed experiments in the hybrid magnet in Tallahassee. P.R., W.K., L.D., M.B. and A.I.C. performed experiments in pulsed fields in Toulouse. A.A.H. grew the single crystals. A.J.S. provided theoretical input. P.R. and A.I.C. performed data analysis and wrote the paper with contributions and comments from all of the authors.

Correspondence to Pascal Reiss or Amalia I. Coldea.

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Supplementary Figs. 1–9 and refs. 1 and 2.

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Reiss, P., Graf, D., Haghighirad, A.A. et al. Quenched nematic criticality and two superconducting domes in an iron-based superconductor. Nat. Phys. (2019) doi:10.1038/s41567-019-0694-2

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