Evidence for a vestigial nematic state in the cuprate pseudogap phase
The CuO2 antiferromagnetic insulator is transformed by hole-doping into an exotic quantum fluid usually referred to as the pseudogap (PG) phase. Its defining characteristic is a strong suppression of the electronic density-of-states D(E) for energies jEj < Δ*, where Δ* is the PG energy. Unanticipated broken-symmetry phases have been detected by a wide variety of techniques in the PG regime, most significantly a finite-Q density-wave (DW) state and a Q = 0 nematic (NE) state. Sublattice-phase-resolved imaging of electronic structure allows the doping and energy dependence of these distinct broken-symmetry states to be visualized simultaneously. Using this approach, we show that even though their reported ordering temperatures TDW and TNE are unrelated to each other, both the DW and NE states always exhibit their maximum spectral intensity at the same energy, and using independent measurements that this is the PG energy Δ*. Moreover, no new energy-gap opening coincides with the appearance of the DW state (which should theoretically open an energy gap on the Fermi surface), while the observed PG opening coincides with the appearance of the NE state (which should theoretically be incapable of opening a Fermi-surface gap). We demonstrate how this perplexing phenomenology of thermal transitions and energy-gap opening at the breaking of two highly distinct symmetries may be understood as the natural consequence of a vestigial nematic state within the pseudogap phase of Bi2Sr2CaCu2O8 © 2019 National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.