Identifying the 'fingerprint' of antiferromagnetic spin fluctuations in iron pnictide superconductors
Cooper pairing in the iron-based high-T c superconductors is often conjectured to involve bosonic fluctuations. Among the candidates are antiferromagnetic spin fluctuations and d-orbital fluctuations amplified by phonons. Any such electron-boson interaction should alter the electron's 'self-energy', and then become detectable through consequent modifications in the energy dependence of the electron's momentum and lifetime. Here we introduce a novel theoretical/experimental approach aimed at uniquely identifying the relevant fluctuations of iron-based superconductors by measuring effects of their self-energy. We use innovative quasiparticle interference (QPI) imaging techniques in LiFeAs to reveal strongly momentum-space anisotropic self-energy signatures that are focused along the Fe-Fe (interband scattering) direction, where the spin fluctuations of LiFeAs are concentrated. These effects coincide in energy with perturbations to the density of states N(ω) usually associated with the Cooper pairing interaction. We show that all the measured phenomena comprise the predicted QPI 'fingerprint'of a self-energy due to antiferromagnetic spin fluctuations, thereby distinguishing them as the predominant electron-boson interaction. © 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited.