Publications associated with Correlated Electron Systems

Imaging the energy gap modulations of the cuprate pair-density-wave state.

Nature 580 (2020) 65-70

Z Du, H Li, SH Joo, EP Donoway, J Lee, JCS Davis, G Gu, PD Johnson, K Fujita

The defining characteristic<sup>1,2</sup> of Cooper pairs with finite centre-of-mass momentum is a spatially modulating superconducting energy gap Δ(r), where r is a position. Recently, this concept has been generalized to the pair-density-wave (PDW) state predicted to exist in copper oxides (cuprates)<sup>3,4</sup>. Although the signature of a cuprate PDW has been detected in Cooper-pair tunnelling<sup>5</sup>, the distinctive signature in single-electron tunnelling of a periodic Δ(r) modulation has not been observed. Here, using a spectroscopic technique based on scanning tunnelling microscopy, we find strong Δ(r) modulations in the canonical cuprate Bi<sub>2</sub>Sr<sub>2</sub>CaCu<sub>2</sub>O<sub>8+δ</sub> that have eight-unit-cell periodicity or wavevectors Q ≈ (2π/a<sub>0</sub>)(1/8, 0) and Q ≈ (2π/a<sub>0</sub>)(0, 1/8) (where a<sub>0</sub> is the distance between neighbouring Cu atoms). Simultaneous imaging of the local density of states N(r, E) (where E is the energy) reveals electronic modulations with wavevectors Q and 2Q, as anticipated when the PDW coexists with superconductivity. Finally, by visualizing the topological defects in these N(r, E) density waves at 2Q, we find them to be concentrated in areas where the PDW spatial phase changes by π, as predicted by the theory of half-vortices in a PDW state<sup>6,7</sup>. Overall, this is a compelling demonstration, from multiple single-electron signatures, of a PDW state coexisting with superconductivity in Bi<sub>2</sub>Sr<sub>2</sub>CaCu<sub>2</sub>O<sub>8+δ</sub>.

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