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Nature. 2001 Aug 2;412(6846):510-4.

Evidence for ubiquitous strong electron-phonon coupling in high-temperature superconductors.

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  • 1Department of Physics, Applied Physics and Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA.


Coupling between electrons and phonons (lattice vibrations) drives the formation of the electron pairs responsible for conventional superconductivity. The lack of direct evidence for electron-phonon coupling in the electron dynamics of the high-transition-temperature superconductors has driven an intensive search for an alternative mechanism. A coupling of an electron with a phonon would result in an abrupt change of its velocity and scattering rate near the phonon energy. Here we use angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy to probe electron dynamics-velocity and scattering rate-for three different families of copper oxide superconductors. We see in all of these materials an abrupt change of electron velocity at 50-80 meV, which we cannot explain by any known process other than to invoke coupling with the phonons associated with the movement of the oxygen atoms. This suggests that electron-phonon coupling strongly influences the electron dynamics in the high-temperature superconductors, and must therefore be included in any microscopic theory of superconductivity.

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