Synopsis: Nesting questions

Experiments chip away at the assumption that Fermi-surface nesting is key to superconductivity in iron-based superconductors.
Synopsis figure
Credit: B. J. Arnold et al., Phys. Rev. B (2011)

Despite intense study, researchers have not yet uncovered the secrets behind the peculiar properties of iron-based (pnictide) superconductors. Many theories that try to explain the driving mechanism of superconductivity in these materials suggest it is tied to so-called nesting of the electron and hole Fermi surfaces. This geometric feature of the Fermi surface, where one portion of the surface maps to another if it is translated by a suitable reciprocal-lattice vector, is common to the structure of many families of pnictides. Nesting often implies the existence of collective electron behavior, so if it is present in the host materials of the pnictides, it would have significant implications for their properties.

In a Rapid Communication appearing in Physical Review B, Brendan Arnold at the University of Bristol, UK, and colleagues use the de Haas-van Alphen effect, where electrons and holes orbit the extrema of the Fermi surface in response to a magnetic field, to map out the electron and hole Fermi surface sheets of BaFe2P2, the parent material of an important family of pnictide materials. Besides providing highly detailed information about the geometry of the Fermi surfaces, they find, rather surprisingly, that the nesting present in the superconducting doped compounds BaFe2(As1-xPx)2 persists in BaFe2P2, which is not superconducting. This finding agrees with a growing list of experiments that conclude nesting does not play a dominant role in the development of superconductivity, at least in one family of pnictide compounds. – Alex Klironomos


Announcements

More Announcements »

Subject Areas

SuperconductivityStrongly Correlated Materials

Previous Synopsis

Atomic and Molecular Physics

New place to search for Efimov states

Read More »

Next Synopsis

Related Articles

Synopsis: Superconductivity Model Misses Its Target
Superconductivity

Synopsis: Superconductivity Model Misses Its Target

Researchers have added dopant atoms to a quantum spin liquid in an effort to make it superconduct, but the material upended theory by remaining an insulator. Read More »

Focus: Nobel Prize—Topological Phases of Matter
Condensed Matter Physics

Focus: Nobel Prize—Topological Phases of Matter

The 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to theoretical physicists whose work established the role of topology in understanding exotic forms of matter. Read More »

Focus: Detecting Photons With a Thermometer
Mesoscopics

Focus: Detecting Photons With a Thermometer

A new technique detects as few as 200 microwave photons at a time by the heat they supply to an electrical circuit. Read More »

More Articles