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J Phys Condens Matter. 2012 Nov 28;24(47):475701. doi: 10.1088/0953-8984/24/47/475701. Epub 2012 Oct 26.

Specific heat versus field for LiFe(1-x)Cu(x)As.

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Department of Physics, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-8440, USA.


LiFeAs is one of the new class of iron superconductors with a bulk [Formula: see text] in the 15-17 K range. We report on the specific heat characterization of single crystal material prepared by self-flux growth techniques with significantly improved properties, including a much decreased residual gamma, γ(r) (≡C/T as T → 0), in the superconducting state. Thus, in contrast to previous explanations of a finite γ(r) in LiFeAs being due to intrinsic states in the superconducting gap, the present work shows that such a finite residual γ in LiFeAs is instead a function of sample quality. Further, since LiFeAs has been characterized as nodeless with multiple superconducting gaps, we report here on its specific heat properties in zero and applied magnetic fields, to compare to similar results on nodal iron superconductors. For comparison, we also investigate LiFe(0.98)Cu(0.02)As, which has the reduced T(c) of ≈9 K and an H(c2) of 15 T. Interestingly, although presumably both LiFeAs and LiFe(0.98)Cu(0.02)As are nodeless, they clearly show a non-linear dependence of the electronic density of states (is proportional to specific heat γ) at the Fermi energy in the mixed state with the applied field, similar to the Volovik effect for nodal superconductors. However, rather than indicating nodal behavior, the satisfactory comparison with a recent theory for γ(H) for a superconductor with two isotropic gaps in the presence of impurities argues for nodeless behavior. Thus, in terms of specific heat in a magnetic field, LiFeAs can serve as the prototypical multiband, nodeless iron superconductor.

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