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Detection of a pair density wave state in UTe2

Cornell Affiliated Author(s)


Q. Gu
J.P. Carroll
S. Wang
S. Ran
C. Broyles
H. Siddiquee
N.P. Butch
S.R. Saha
J. Paglione
J.C.S. Davis
X. Liu


Spin-triplet topological superconductors should exhibit many unprecedented electronic properties, including fractionalized electronic states relevant to quantum information processing. Although UTe2 may embody such bulk topological superconductivity1–11, its superconductive order parameter Δ(k) remains unknown12. Many diverse forms for Δ(k) are physically possible12 in such heavy fermion materials13. Moreover, intertwined14,15 density waves of spin (SDW), charge (CDW) and pair (PDW) may interpose, with the latter exhibiting spatially modulating14,15 superconductive order parameter Δ(r), electron-pair density16–19 and pairing energy gap17,20–23. Hence, the newly discovered CDW state24 in UTe2 motivates the prospect that a PDW state may exist in this material24,25. To search for it, we visualize the pairing energy gap with μeV-scale energy resolution using superconductive scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM) tips26–31. We detect three PDWs, each with peak-to-peak gap modulations of around 10 μeV and at incommensurate wavevectors Pi=1,2,3 that are indistinguishable from the wavevectors Qi=1,2,3 of the prevenient24 CDW. Concurrent visualization of the UTe2 superconductive PDWs and the non-superconductive CDWs shows that every Pi:Qi pair exhibits a relative spatial phase δϕ ≈ π. From these observations, and given UTe2 as a spin-triplet superconductor12, this PDW state should be a spin-triplet PDW24,25. Although such states do exist32 in superfluid 3He, for superconductors, they are unprecedented. © 2023, The Author(s).

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Group (Lab)

J.C. Seamus Davis Group

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