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Unprecedentedly large superconducting gap in HgBa$_2$Ca$_2$Cu$_3$O$_{8+\delta}$ with the highest $T_c$ at ambient pressure

Chuanhao WenZhiyong HouAlireza Akbari ...+5 Hai-Hu Wen
Jan 2024
In cuprate superconductors, the highest superconducting transition temperature $T_c$ is possessed by the HgBa$_2$Ca$_2$Cu$_3$O$_{8+\delta}$ (Hg-1223) system at ambient pressure, but the reason remains elusive. Here we report the scanning tunneling microscope measurements on the Hg-1223 single crystals with $T_c$ = 134 K. The observed superconducting gaps determined from the tunneling spectra can be categorized into two groups: the smaller gap $\Delta_1$ ranges from about 45 to 70 meV, while the larger gap $\Delta_2$ from about 65 to 98 meV. The observed unprecedentedly large gap value gives a straightforward explanation to the highest $T_c$ in the Hg-1223 system. The largest gap observed here is comparable to the magnetic superexchange energy and excludes any possibility of using phonon pictures to interpret the superconductivity. Interestingly, an extremely strong particle-hole asymmetry is observed in associating with a very robust coherence peak at the bias of the larger gap in the hole branch of the Bogoliubov dispersion. We propose that the observed asymmetry results from the interplay of a flat band (van Hove singularity) in the electronic spectrum and the large superconducting gap in the underdoped layer. This could be the main reason for the strong pairing, and significant enhancement of the density of states in the hole branch of the Bogoliubov band yielding strong phase coherence of Cooper pairs. A scenario based on a trilayer model with an interlayer coupling can give a reasonable explanation. Our results provide deep insight into understanding the mechanism of superconductivity in cuprate superconductors.
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