Phase competition and anomalous thermal evolution in high-temperature superconductors
AbstractThe interplay of competing orders is relevant to high-temperature superconductivity known to emerge upon suppression of a parent antiferromagnetic order typically via charge doping. How such interplay evolves at low temperature—in particular at what doping level the zero-temperature quantum critical point (QCP) is located—is still elusive because it is masked by the superconducting state. The QCP had long been believed to follow a smooth extrapolation of the characteristic temperature T* for the strange normal state well above the superconducting transition temperature. However, recently the T* within the superconducting dome was reported to unexpectedly exhibit back-bending likely in the cuprate Bi2Sr2CaCu2O8+δ. Here we show that the original and revised phase diagrams can be understood in terms of weak and moderate competitions, respectively, between superconductivity and a pseudogap state such as d-density or spin-density wave, based on both Ginzburg-Landau theory and the realistic t-t′-t′′-J-V model for the cuprates. We further found that the calculated temperature and doping-level dependence of the quasiparticle spectral gap and Raman response qualitatively agrees with the experiments. In particular, the T* back-bending can provide a simple explanation of the observed anomalous two-step thermal evolution dominated by the superconducting gap and the pseudogap, respectively. Our results imply that the revised phase diagram is likely to take place in high-temperature superconductors.