Physica C: Superconductivity and its applications

Damping mechanism of the strongly renormalized c-axis plasma frequency in high-Tc cuprates

View publication


We study the charge dynamics of high-Tc superconductors with the electric field perpendicular to the planes, using polarized oblique-incidence reflectometry for thin films of Tl2Ba2Ca2Cu3O10 and normal incidence reflectometry for single crystals of La1.85Sr0.15CuO4. In Tl2Ba2Ca2Cu3O10 we observe no c-axis optical plasmon either above or below Tc. For E//c in La2-xSrxCuO4, no plasmon is observed in the normal state, but as soon as T drops below Tc, a plasma edge in the reflectivity occurs, which moves up to about 2kBTc for T→0. The electronic contribution to σ(ω)≈7ω-1 cm-1 is independent of frequency up to several hundred cm-1, which implies that the optical scattering rate (τc-1) is large compared to the c-axis plasma frequency (ωpc). We prove experimentally that h {combining short stroke overlay}/τc h {combining short stroke overlay}ωpc≫ 3.5kETc, hence the c-axis response is in a universality class different from the dirty (Mattis-Bardeen) limit, and the absence of a plasma edge in the normal state is due to overdamping. Recent experimental data of various groups show that this is a generic feature of high-Tc cuprates. There is no need to assume a large many-body reduction of the ab initio LDA-RPA plasma frequency along the c-axis. Yet the overdamping of the plasmon could be a many-body effect. The 'confinement' to the planes as was proposed by Anderson is therefore due to a strong scattering in the c-direction. In the dirty limit only the relatively small amount of oscillator strength in the below-gap region is transferred to the pair-response (the δ-function at zero frequency). As a result the plasma edge in the superconducting state occurs at about 3.4(kBTc h {combining short stroke overlay}/τ)0.5 ωpc≪3.5kBTc ≪ h {combining short stroke overlay}ωpc. © 1994.