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Title: Unconventional Fermi surface in insulating SmB6 and superconducting YBa2Cu3O6+x probed by high magnetic fields
Author: Hsu, Yu-Te
ISNI:       0000 0004 7426 5482
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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Fermi surface, the locus in momentum space of gapless low-energy excitations, is a concept of fundamental importance in solid state physics. Electronic properties of a material are determined by the long-lived low-energy excitations near the Fermi surface. Conventionally, Fermi surface is understood as a property exclusive to a metallic state, contoured by electronic bands crossed by the Fermi level, although there has been a continuing effort in searching for Fermi surface outside the conventional description. In this thesis, techniques developed to prepare high-quality single crystals of SmB$_6$ and YBa$_2$Cu$_3$O$_{6+x}$ (abbreviated as YBCO$_{6+x}$ hereinafter) are described. By utilising measurement techniques of exceptional sensitivity and exploring a wide range of temperatures, magnetic fields, and electrical currents, we found signatures of unconventional Fermi surfaces beyond the traditional description in these strongly correlated electronic systems. SmB$_6$ is a classic example of Kondo insulators whose insulating behaviour arises due to strong correlation between the itinerant $d$-electrons and localised $f$-electrons. The peculiar resistivity plateau onsets below 4 K has been a decades-long puzzle whose origin has been recently proposed as the manifestation of topological conducting surface states. We found that the insulating behaviour in electrical transport is robust against magnetic fields up to 45 T, while prominent quantum oscillations in magnetisation are observed above 10 T. Angular dependence of the quantum oscillations revealed a three-dimensional characteristics with an absolute amplitude consistent with a bulk origin, and temperature dependence showed a surprising departure from the conventional Lifshitz-Kosevich formalism. Complementary thermodynamic measurements showed results consistent with a Fermi surface originating from neutral itinerant low-energy excitations at low temperatures. Theoretical proposals of the unconventional ground state uncovered by our measurements in SmB$_6$ are discussed. YBCO$_{6+x}$ is a high-temperature superconductor with a maximum $T_{\rm c}$ of 93.5 K and the cleanest member in the family of copper-oxide, or {\it cuprate}, superconductors. The correct description of electronic ground state in the enigmatic pseudogap regime, where the antinodal density of states are suppressed below a characteristic temperature $T^*$ above $T_{\rm c}$, has been a subject of active debates. While the quantum oscillations observed in underdoped YBCO$_{6+x}$ have been predominately interpreted as a property of the normal state where the superconducting parameter is completely suppressed at $\approx$ 23 T, we made the discovery that YBCO$_{6.55}$ exhibits zero resistivity up to 45 T when a low electrical current is used, consistent with the observation of a hysteresis loop in magnetisation. Quantum oscillations in the underdoped YBCO$_{6+x}$ are thus seen to coexist with $d$-wave superconductivity. Characteristics of the quantum oscillations are consistent with an isolated Fermi pocket reconstructed by a charge density wave order parameter and unaccompanied by significant background density of states, suggesting the antinodal density of states is completely gapped out by a strong order parameter involving pairing correlations, potentially in addition to the other order parameters. Transport measurements performed over a wide doping range show signatures consistent with pairing correlations that persist up to the pseudogap temperature $T^*$. The surprising observation of quantum oscillations in insulating SmB$_6$ and superconducting YBCO$_{6+x}$ demonstrates a possible new paradigm of a Fermi surface without a conventional Fermi liquid. A new theoretical framework outside the realm of Fermi liquid theory may be needed to discuss the physics in these strongly correlated materials with enticing electronic properties.
Supervisor: Sebastian, Suchitra Sponsor: Ministry of Education ; Taiwan
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Kondo insulators ; Quantum oscillations ; High-Tc superconductivity ; Fermi surface ; High magnetic fields