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Journal Article

Heavy fermions: superconductivity and its relationship to quantum criticality


Steglich,  Frank
Frank Steglich, Physics of Quantum Materials, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids, Max Planck Society;

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Steglich, F. (2014). Heavy fermions: superconductivity and its relationship to quantum criticality. Philosophical Magazine, 94(28), 3259-3280. doi:10.1080/14786435.2014.956835.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0024-2497-F
Anti-ferromagnetic (AF) heavy-fermion (HF) metals frequently exhibit a quantum critical point (QCP), i.e. a continuous disappearance of AF order at zero temperature as a function of a non-thermal control parameter, like pressure. Commonly, unconventional (d-wave) superconductivity (SC) is observed in the vicinity of such a QCP. In this article, the interplay between quantum criticality and SC in HF metals is discussed. The latter can be well described in the framework of the Kondo lattice (KL) model. After introducing HFs and giving an overview on HF superconductivity, the characteristic energy scales in KL systems are addressed. Subsequently, we concentrate on the isostructural compounds CeCu2Si2 and YbRh2Si2. CeCu2Si2 is a prototypical HF superconductor which shows a QCP of itinerant, i.e. three-dimensional (3D) spin-density-wave (SDW) type. Overdamped, nearly quantum-critical SDW fluctuations are concluded from inelastic-neutron-scattering results to be the driving force for SC (T-c approximate to 0.6 K) in this compound. While the QCP in several other Ce-based HF superconductors is presumably of the SDW variety too, it is likely to be of the local, i.e. Kondo destroying type in the pressure-induced superconductor CeRhIn5. YbRh2Si2 has been identified as a prototype HF metal exhibiting such a Kondo breakdown QCP, often named a (T = 0) 4f-orbital selective Mott transition. This compound is not a superconductor at T > 10 mK. Systematically searching for and studying SC near Kondo destroying QCPs may offer a link to unconventional SC in other families of correlated materials, such as the doped Mott insulators in the high-T-c cuprates and some of the organic charge-transfer salts.