Unconventional short-range structural fluctuations in cuprate high-$T_c$ superconductors

9 Mar 2021  ·  D. Pelc, R. J. Spieker, Z. W. Anderson, M. J. Krogstad, N. Biniskos, N. G. Bielinski, B. Yu, T. Sasagawa, L. Chauviere, P. Dosanjh, R. Liang, D. A. Bonn, A. Damascelli, Y. Liu, R. Osborn, M. Greven ·

The interplay between structural and electronic degrees of freedom in complex materials is the subject of extensive debate in physics and materials science. Particularly interesting questions pertain to the nature and extent of pre-transitional short-range order in diverse systems ranging from shape-memory alloys to unconventional superconductors, and how this microstructure affects macroscopic properties... Here we use neutron and X-ray scattering to uncover universal structural fluctuations in La$_{2-x}$Sr$_x$CuO$_4$ and Tl$_2$Ba$_2$CuO$_{6+{\delta}}$, two cuprate superconductors with distinct point disorder effects and optimal superconducting transition temperatures. The fluctuations are present in wide doping and temperature ranges, including compositions that maintain high average structural symmetry, and they exhibit unusual, yet simple scaling laws. We relate this behavior to pre-transitional phenomena in a broad class of systems with martensitic transitions, and argue that it can be understood as a rare-region effect caused by intrinsic, doping- and compound-independent nanoscale inhomogeneity. We also uncover remarkable parallels with superconducting fluctuations, which indicates that the underlying inhomogeneity plays a pivotal role in cuprate physics. read more

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Superconductivity Materials Science