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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 May 12;106(19):7741-4. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0811859106. Epub 2009 Apr 28.

Heavy holes as a precursor to superconductivity in antiferromagnetic CeIn3.

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  • 1Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0HE, United Kingdom.


Numerous phenomenological parallels have been drawn between f- and d-electron systems in an attempt to understand their display of unconventional superconductivity. The microscopics of how electrons evolve from participation in large moment antiferromagnetism to superconductivity in these systems, however, remains a mystery. Knowing the origin of Cooper paired electrons in momentum space is a crucial prerequisite for understanding the pairing mechanism. Of special interest are pressure-induced superconductors CeIn(3) and CeRhIn(5) in which disparate magnetic and superconducting orders apparently coexist-arising from within the same f-electron degrees of freedom. Here, we present ambient pressure quantum oscillation measurements on CeIn(3) that crucially identify the electronic structure-potentially similar to high-temperature superconductors. Heavy hole pockets of f-character are revealed in CeIn(3), undergoing an unexpected effective mass divergence well before the antiferromagnetic critical field. We thus uncover the softening of a branch of quasiparticle excitations located away from the traditional spin fluctuation-dominated antiferromagnetic quantum critical point. The observed Fermi surface of dispersive f-electrons in CeIn(3) could potentially explain the emergence of Cooper pairs from within a strong moment antiferromagnet.

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