Superconductivity often emerges in the proximity of, or in competition with, symmetry breaking ground states such as antiferromagnetism or charge density waves (CDW)1-5. A number of materials in the cuprate family, which includes the high-transition-temperature (high-Tc) superconductors, show spin and charge density wave order5-7. Thus a fundamental question is to what extent these ordered states exist for compositions close to optimal for superconductivity. Here we use high-energy x-ray diffraction to show that a CDW develops at zero field in the normal state of superconducting YBa2Cu3O6.67 (Tc = 67 K). Below Tc, the application of a magnetic field suppresses superconductivity and enhances the CDW. Hence, the CDW and superconductivity are competing orders in this typical high-Tc superconductor, and high-Tc superconductivity can form from a pre-existing CDW state. Our results explain observations of small Fermi surface pockets8, negative Hall and Seebeck effect9,10 and the "Tc plateau"11 in this material when underdoped.
Supplementary Information is available on request
- Superconducting properties and materials