Spin and charge fluctuations in cuprate superconductors studied with resonant inelastic x-ray scattering

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This thesis presents new high-resolution resonant inelastic x-ray scattering (RIXS) studies in high-Tc cuprate superconductors (HTSs). RIXS measures elementary excitations of the type which characterise the ordered phases known to exist alongside superconductivity in the cuprates. The role that these phases play in the pairing mechanism which gives rise to superconductivity remains unclear. The work in this thesis therefore presents new measurements of the excitations with the aim of helping to constrain theoretical models of pairing. Spin fluctuations are characteristic of the antiferromagnetic phase of cuprates but are also seen to persist into superconducting phases. As a result, theories based on the Hubbard model often consider spin fluctuations to be important to pairing. The role of charge fluctuations, either competing or contributing to superconductivity, is also important to understand. The experimental work was performed at two new RIXS spectrometers, I21 at Diamond Light Source and ID32 at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, both optimised to achieve high intensity and energy resolution in the soft x-ray RIXS regime. Measurements are presented on single layer cuprate La2CuO4 where consideration of the prefactors to the RIXS intensity reveals the wavevector dependence of the dynamical susceptibility in new regions of the Brillouin zone. The measurements are extended to two doped compositions of La2-xSrxCuO4, x = 0.12 and 0.16. The spin fluctuations are characterised within a damped harmonic oscillator model which reveals the wavevector dependent anisotropy of the damping in doped compositions. New RIXS measurements in two-layer YBa2Cu3O6-x (YBCO) show similar effects. The charge order is also examined in YBCO revealing a broad wavevector dependent peak in the elastic intensity. This work is also a test of RIXS as a probe of low-energy excitations in well studied cuprate materials and provides insights into the RIXS intensity by comparison with a similar probe: inelastic neutron scattering.
Date of Award24 Mar 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bristol
SupervisorStephen M Hayden (Supervisor), Stephen B Dugdale (Supervisor) & Ke-Jin Zhou (Supervisor)

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