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Nature. 2008 Sep 18;455(7211):372-5. doi: 10.1038/nature07251.

Unusual magnetic order in the pseudogap region of the superconductor HgBa2CuO4+delta.

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Department of Physics, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA.


The pseudogap region of the phase diagram is an important unsolved puzzle in the field of high-transition-temperature (high-T(c)) superconductivity, characterized by anomalous physical properties. There are open questions about the number of distinct phases and the possible presence of a quantum-critical point underneath the superconducting dome. The picture has remained unclear because there has not been conclusive evidence for a new type of order. Neutron scattering measurements for YBa(2)Cu(3)O(6+delta) (YBCO) resulted in contradictory claims of no and weak magnetic order, and the interpretation of muon spin relaxation measurements on YBCO and of circularly polarized photoemission experiments on Bi(2)Sr(2)CaCu(2)O(8+delta)(refs 12, 13) has been controversial. Here we use polarized neutron diffraction to demonstrate for the model superconductor HgBa(2)CuO(4+delta) (Hg1201) that the characteristic temperature T* marks the onset of an unusual magnetic order. Together with recent results for YBCO, this observation constitutes a demonstration of the universal existence of such a state. The findings appear to rule out theories that regard T* as a crossover temperature rather than a phase transition temperature. Instead, they are consistent with a variant of previously proposed charge-current-loop order that involves apical oxygen orbitals, and with the notion that many of the unusual properties arise from the presence of a quantum-critical point.


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