A Mott insulator continuously connected to iron pnictide superconductors
Song, Yu; Yamani, Zahra; Cao, Chongde; Li, Yu; Zhang, Chenglin; More... Chen, Justin S.; Huang, Qingzhen; Wu, Hui; Tao, Jing; Zhu, Yimei; Tian, Wei; Chi, Songxue; Cao, Huibo; Huang, Yao-Bo; Dantz, Marcus; Schmitt, Thorsten; Yu, Rong; Nevidomskyy, Andriy H.; Morosan, Emilia; Si, Qimiao; Dai, Pengcheng Less...
Iron-based superconductivity develops near an antiferromagnetic order and out of a bad-metal normal state, which has been interpreted as originating from a proximate Mott transition. Whether an actual Mott insulator can be realized in the phase diagram of the iron pnictides remains an open question. Here we use transport, transmission electron microscopy, X-ray absorption spectroscopy, resonant inelastic X-ray scattering and neutron scattering to demonstrate that NaFe1−xCuxAs near x≈0.5 exhibits real space Fe and Cu ordering, and are antiferromagnetic insulators with the insulating behaviour persisting above the Néel temperature, indicative of a Mott insulator. On decreasing x from 0.5, the antiferromagnetic-ordered moment continuously decreases, yielding to superconductivity ∼x=0.05. Our discovery of a Mott-insulating state in NaFe1−xCuxAs thus makes it the only known Fe-based material, in which superconductivity can be smoothly connected to the Mott-insulating state, highlighting the important role of electron correlations in the high-Tc superconductivity.
NEWS COVERAGE: A news release based on this journal publication is available online: http://news.rice.edu/2016/12/19/copper-stripes-help-iron-pnictide-lock-in-insulating-state/