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Nat Mater. 2019 Feb;18(2):103-107. doi: 10.1038/s41563-018-0243-x. Epub 2018 Dec 17.

Charge-stripe crystal phase in an insulating cuprate.

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Department of Physics, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA, USA.
Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY, USA.
Department of Physics, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA, USA.


High-temperature (high-Tc) superconductivity in cuprates arises from carrier doping of an antiferromagnetic Mott insulator. This carrier doping leads to the formation of electronic liquid-crystal phases1. The insulating charge-stripe crystal phase is predicted to form when a small density of holes is doped into the charge-transfer insulator state1-3, but this phase is yet to be observed experimentally. Here, we use surface annealing to extend the accessible doping range in Bi-based cuprates and realize the lightly doped charge-transfer insulating state of the cuprate Bi2Sr2CaCu2O8+x. In this insulating state with a charge transfer gap on the order of ~1‚ÄČeV, our spectroscopic imaging scanning tunnelling microscopy measurements provide strong evidence for a unidirectional charge-stripe order with a commensurate 4a0 period along the Cu-O-Cu bond. Notably, this insulating charge-stripe crystal phase develops before the onset of the pseudogap and formation of the Fermi surface. Our work provides fresh insight into the microscopic origin of electronic inhomogeneity in high-Tc cuprates.


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