Magnetism in the iron-based superconductors : the determination of spin-nematic fluctuations as the primary order parameter and its implications for unconventional superconductivity
Taddei, Keith M.
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With nearly innumerable applications, superconductivity stands as a holy grail in the research of quantum phenomena. Understanding the mechanism that begets the fabled pairing of electrons which leads to zero resistance is the most significant undertaking in order to bring to fruition all of superconductivity's splendor. Yet the interaction which couples electrons in the most promising family of superconductors known as unconventional superconductors, which show the highest Tc's and largest upper critical fields remains a mystery. Intense study over the past several decades on the cuprate superconductors has allowed for the identification of several candidate mechanisms --- cardinal of which is magnetic fluctuations --- however as of yet the question still remains. Recently, the discovery of the iron-based superconductors has provided another fruitful avenue through which this mechanism can be probed. Excitingly in these materials superconductivity not only arises near a magnetic instability - a situation which is expected to be particularly suited for engendering superconductivity should magnetic fluctuations be the pairing mechanism - but also exhibit the microscopic co-existence of the two presumably adversarial phenomena. In the work presented here the powerful techniques of neutron and x-ray diffraction will be used to study two particularly interesting members of this family: the intercalated iron-selenide CsxFe 2--xSe2 and two members of the iron-arsenide 122 family (BaFe2(As1--xPx)2 and Sr1--xNaxFe2As 2). Though isostructural at high temperatures, these two materials behave remarkably differently and the idiosyncratic manifestations of superconductivity and ordered magnetism in either give clues as to how the latter might stabilize the former. The iron-selenides will be shown to exhibit a complex phase space with phase separation leading to stabilization of magnetism and superconductivity in separate phases. The structure, behavior and complex vacancy ordering of this phase-separated state will be elucidated and the superconductivity attributed to a pseudo-stable minority phase. Detailed phase diagrams will be constructed for the related BaFe2(As1--xPx) 2 and Sr1--xNaxFe2 As2 compounds leading to a direct comparison of the effects driving of either doping regime. A strong magneto-elastic coupling will be established in both of these materials and a new magnetic phase will be mapped in Sr1--xNaxFe2As2. These observations will lead to a discussion of the role of magnetic fluctuations in the overall behavior of the material. The results of inelastic and elastic diffraction experiments will be combined with the results of the local probe M?ssbauer spectroscopy technique in order to determine magnetic fluctuations as the primary order parameter in the phase evolution of the iron-based superconductors, and therefore their importance in establishment of superconductivity as the ground state of these materials.