Thermodynamic signatures of quantum criticality in cuprate superconductors

B. Michon, C. Girod, S. Badoux, J. Kačmarčík, Q. Ma, M. Dragomir, H. A. Dabkowska, B. D. Gaulin, J. S. Zhou, S. Pyon, T. Takayama, H. Takagi, S. Verret, N. Doiron-Leyraud, C. Marcenat, L. Taillefer, T. Klein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLetter (Academic Journal)peer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


The three central phenomena of cuprate (copper oxide) superconductors are linked by a common doping level p*—at which the enigmatic pseudogap phase ends and the resistivity exhibits an anomalous linear dependence on temperature, and around which the superconducting phase forms a dome-shaped area in the phase diagram1. However, the fundamental nature of p* remains unclear, in particular regarding whether it marks a true quantum phase transition. Here we measure the specific heat C of the cuprates Eu-LSCO and Nd-LSCO at low temperature in magnetic fields large enough to suppress superconductivity, over a wide doping range2 that includes p*. As a function of doping, we find that Cel/T is strongly peaked at p* (where Cel is the electronic contribution to C) and exhibits a log(1/T) dependence as temperature T tends to zero. These are the classic thermodynamic signatures of a quantum critical point3–5, as observed in heavy-fermion6 and iron-based7 superconductors at the point where their antiferromagnetic phase comes to an end. We conclude that the pseudogap phase of cuprates ends at a quantum critical point, the associated fluctuations of which are probably involved in d-wave pairing and the anomalous scattering of charge carriers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)218-222
Number of pages5
Issue number7747
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2019


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