Microscopic evidence for the intra-unit-cell electronic nematicity inside the pseudogap phase in YBa2Cu4O8


Understanding the nature of the mysterious pseudogap phenomenon is one of the most important issues associated with cuprate high-Tc superconductors. Here, we report 17O nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) studies on two planar oxygen sites in stoichiometric cuprate YBa2Cu4O8 to investigate the symmetry breaking inside the pseudogap phase. We observe that the Knight shifts of the two oxygen sites are identical at high temperatures but different below Tnem ∼ 185 K, which is close to the pseudogap temperature T*. Our result provides a microscopic evidence for intra-unit-cell electronic nematicity. The difference in quadrupole resonance frequency between the two oxygen sites is unchanged below Tnem, which suggests that the observed nematicity does not directly stem from the local charge density modulation. Furthermore, a short-range charge density wave (CDW) order is observed below T ≃ 150 K. The additional broadening in the 17O-NMR spectra because of this CDW order is determined to be inequivalent for the two oxygen sites, which is similar to that observed in case of nematicity. These results suggest a possible connection between nematicity, CDW order, and pseudogap.

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Correspondence to Rui Zhou.

Additional information

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 11974405, 11674377, and 11634015), the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (Grant Nos. 2016YFA0300502, and 2017YFA0302904), and the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. XDB33010100).

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Wang, W., Luo, J., Wang, C. et al. Microscopic evidence for the intra-unit-cell electronic nematicity inside the pseudogap phase in YBa2Cu4O8. Sci. China Phys. Mech. Astron. 64, 237413 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11433-020-1615-y

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  • high-temperature superconductors
  • nuclear magnetic resonance
  • nematic order
  • pseudogap