Macroscopic Quantum Matter

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Latest research paper: Detection of a pair density wave state in UTe2

Nature volume 618, pages 921–927 (2023)

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Quantum microscopy sheds light on high-temperature superconductivity

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Detection of a pair density wave state in UTe2

Nature volume 618pages 921–927 (2023)
The properties of superconducting materials, their perfectly dissipationless electronics, perfect diamagnetism, and macroscopic quantum mechanical dynamics are all the products of the formation of a macroscopic quantum fluid of electron pairs. To better understand this, we have developed the first scanned Josephson/Andreev tunnelling microscopes (SJTM/SATM) which provide direct access to the macroscopic quantum electron pair condensate.

Since the 1960s the possibility of a crystalline superconducting phase within the overall fluid has been discussed with great interest in the superconducting community. Such a state should manifest itself as a spatially periodic electron-pair crystal; we call this state a Pair Density Wave (PDW). For years the superconducting community had suggested that such a PDW state might exist in the high-temperature superconductor Bi2Sr2CaCu2O8+x. In 2016 our group developed our first SJTM system and subsequently detected this long-predicted PDW state. Since then, we have discovered PDWs in several other materials including in the transition metal dichalcogenide superconductor NbSe2.

Recently our focus of study has been the spin-triplet topological superconductor UTe2. This class of superconductors should exhibit many unprecedented electronic properties, including fractionalized electronic states relevant to quantum information processing.  In UTe2, we searched for a PDW state by visualizing the pairing energy gap with μeV-scale energy resolution made possible by a superconducting SATM tip. We discovered three PDWs at incommensurate wavevectors Pi = 1,2,3 that are indistinguishable from the wavevectors Qi = 1,2,3 of the prevenient CDW. From these observations and given UTe2 as a spin-triplet superconductor, this PDW state appears to be the first known spin-triplet pair density wave.


Group Information

Davis Group research concentrates upon the fundamental physics of exotic states of electronic, magnetic, atomic and space-time quantum matter. A speciality is the development of innovative instrumentation to allow direct atomic-scale visualization or perception of the quantum many-body phenomena characteristic of these states.

Davis Group operates three suites of ultra-low vibration laboratories, one in the Kane Building at University College Cork (IE), another in Beecroft Building at Oxford University (UK), and a third in Clark Hall at Cornell University (US). Our program's other key components are at MPI CPfS Dresden, within the Max Planck Graduate Center for Quantum Materials.

Our overall objective is to exploit the distinct capabilities and facilities at all laboratories to maximize scientific efficiency. Ours is a single research group conducting scientifically harmonized studies with complementary scientific instruments at all group locations. 


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Macroscopic Quantum Matter

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