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Title: Correlated low temperature states of YFe2Ge2 and pressure metallised NiS2
Author: Semeniuk, Konstantin
ISNI:       0000 0004 7227 8191
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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While the free electron model can often be surprisingly successful in describing properties of solids, there are plenty of materials in which interactions between electrons are too significant to be neglected. These strongly correlated systems sometimes exhibit rather unexpected, unusual and useful phenomena, understanding of which is one of the aims of condensed matter physics. Heat capacity measurements of paramagnetic YFe$_{2}$Ge$_{2}$ give a Sommerfeld coefficient of about 100 mJ mol$^{−1}$ K$^{−2}$, which is about an order of magnitude higher than the value predicted by band structure calculations. This suggests the existence of strong electronic correlations in the compound, potentially due to proximity to an antiferromagnetic quantum critical point (QCP). Existence of the latter is also indicated by the non-Fermi liquid T$^{3/2}$ behaviour of the low temperature resistivity. Below 1.8 K a superconducting phase develops in the material, making it a rare case of a non-pnictide and non-chalcogenide iron based superconductor with the 1-2-2 structure. This thesis describes growth and study of a new generation of high quality YFe$_{2}$Ge$_{2}$ samples with residual resistance ratios reaching 200. Measurements of resistivity, heat capacity and magnetic susceptibility confirm the intrinsic and bulk character of the superconductivity, which is also argued to be of an unconventional nature. In order to test the hypothesis of the nearby QCP, resistance measurements under high pressure of up to 35 kbar have been conducted. Pressure dependence of the critical temperature of the superconductivity has been found to be rather weak. μSR measurements have been performed, but provided limited information due to sample inhomogeneity resulting in a broad distribution of the critical temperature. While the superconductivity is the result of an effective attraction between electrons, under different circumstances the electronic properties of a system can instead be dictated by the Coulomb repulsion. This is the case for another transition metal based compound NiS$_{2}$, which is a Mott insulator. Applying hydrostatic pressure of about 30 kbar brings the material across the Mott metal-insulator transition (MIT) into the metallic phase. We have used the tunnel diode oscillator (TDO) technique to measure quantum oscillations in the metallised state of NiS$_{2}$, making it possible to track the evolution of the principal Fermi surface and the associated effective mass as a function of pressure. New results are presented which access a wider pressure range than previous studies and provide strong evidence that the effective carrier mass diverges close to the Mott MIT, as expected within the Brinkman-Rice scenario and predicted in dynamical mean field theory calculations. Quantum oscillations have been measured at pressures as close to the insulating phase as 33 kbar and as high as 97 kbar. In addition to providing a valuable insight into the mechanism of the Mott MIT, this study has also demonstrated the potential of the TDO technique for studying materials at high pressures.
Supervisor: Grosche, Friedrich Malte Sponsor: EPSRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: YFe2Ge2 ; NiS2 ; quantum oscillations ; tunnel diode oscillator ; TDO ; Mott insulator ; superconductivity ; iron-based superconductors ; high pressure ; pressure cell ; low temperature ; high magnetic field ; strongly correlated ; non-Fermi liquid ; Fermi surface ; anvil cell ; piston-cylinder cell ; musr