Mechanism of the high transition temperature for the 1111-type iron-based superconductors RFeAsO (R=rareearth): Synergistic effects of local structures and 4f electrons
AbstractAmong the iron-based superconductors, the 1111-type Fe-As–based superconductors REFeAsO1-xFx (RE = rare earth) exhibit high transition temperatures (Tc) above 40 K. We perform first-principles calculations based on density functional theory with the consideration of both electronic correlations and spin-orbit couplings on rare earths and Fe ions to study the underlying mechanism as the microscopic structural distortions in REFeAsO tuned by both lanthanide contraction and external strain. The electronic structures evolve similarly in both cases. It is found that there exist an optimal structural regime that will not only initialize but also optimize the orbital fluctuations due to the competing Fe-As and Fe-Fe crystal fields. We also find that the key structural features in REFeAsO, such as As-Fe-As bond angle, intrinsically induce the modification of the Fermi surface and dynamic spin fluctuation. These results suggest that the superconductivity is mediated by antiferromagnetic spin fluctuations. Simultaneously, we show that the rare-earth 4f electrons play important roles on the high transition temperature whose behavior might be analogous to that of the heavy-fermion superconductors. The superconductivity of these 1111-type iron-based superconductors with high-Tc is considered to originate from the synergistic effects of local structures and 4f electrons.