Condensed-Matter Physics & Materials Science Seminar

"Unpaired Spins in Superconductors: From Assassin to Enabler"

Presented by Jeffrey Lynn, NIST Center for Neutron Research, National Institute of Standards and Technology

Thursday, April 20, 2017, 1:30 pm — Bldg. 734, ISB Conference Room 201 (upstairs)

The magnetic properties of superconductors have a rich and interesting history, and we will briefly review some highlights. Early work showed that even tiny concentrations of magnetic impurities destroyed the superconducting pairing through the exchange-driven spin depairing mechanism, prohibiting any possibility of magnetic order coexisting with superconductivity. The first exceptions to this rule were provided by the cubic rare-earth substituted CeRu2 alloys, followed by the ternary Chevrel-phase superconductors (e.g. HoMo6S8) and related compounds, where long range magnetic order coexists or competes with superconductivity. The very low magnetic ordering temperatures (~1 K) suggested that dipolar rather than exchange interactions dominate, thus (it was thought) allowing the coexistence. These materials also provided the first examples of the competition between ferromagnetism and superconductivity. In the newer borocarbide class of magnetic superconductors (e.g. ErNi2B2C), however, it became clear that the magnetic order is in fact exchange driven. The borocarbides also provided the first example of the spontaneous formation of flux quanta (vortices). For the cuprate and iron-based superconductors (formerly known as "high Tc") we now have come full circle, as the spins are not only tolerated but are intimately tied to the superconductivity. The "parent" cuprate systems are Mott-Hubbard antiferromagnetic insulators with very strong magnetic interactions that are two-dimensional in nature. These strong exchange interactions survive into the superconducting state, yielding highly correlated electrons that participate directly in the superconducting pairing. The "parent" materials of the new iron-based high TC superconductors are also antiferromagnets with very energetic spin excitations, and in the superconducting regime they form a "magnetic resonance" that is directly tied to the superconducting order parameter, ju

Hosted by: Igor Zaliznyak

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