"Nematic transitions in iron pnictide superconductors imaged with a quantum gas"

Fan Yang: Stephen F. Taylor , Stephen D. Edkins, Johanna C. Palmstrom, Ian R. Fisher and Benjamin L. Lev; Nature Physics, 03/30/20.

Additional Authors: Stephen F. Taylor , Stephen D. Edkins, Johanna C. Palmstrom, Ian R. Fisher and Benjamin L. Lev

Abstract:

The Scanning Quantum Cryogenic Atom Microscope (SQCRAMscope) uses an atomic Bose–Einstein condensate to measure magnetic fields emanating from solid-state samples. The quantum sensor does so with unprecedented d.c. sensitivity at micrometre resolution, from room to cryogenic temperatures1. An additional advantage of the SQCRAMscope is the preservation of optical access to the sample so that magnetometry imaging of, for example, electron transport may be performed in concert with other imaging techniques. Here, we apply this multimodal imaging capability to the study of nematicity in iron pnictide high-temperature superconductors, where the relationship between electronic and structural symmetry breaking resulting in a nematic phase is under debate2. We combine the SQCRAMscope with an in situ microscope that measures optical birefringence near the surface. This enables simultaneous and spatially resolved detection of both bulk and near-surface manifestations of nematicity via transport and structural deformation channels, respectively. By performing local measurements of emergent resistivity anisotropy in iron pnictides, we observe sharp, nearly concurrent transport and structural transitions. More broadly, these measurements demonstrate the SQCRAMscope’s ability to reveal important insights into the physics of complex quantum materials.