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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Recombination and propagation of quasiparticles in cuprate superconductors


Rapid developments in time-resolved optical spectroscopy have led to renewed interest in the nonequilibrium state of superconductors and other highly correlated electron materials. In these experiments, the nonequilibrium state is prepared by the absorption of short (less than 100 fs) laser pulses, typically in the near-infrared, that perturb the density and energy distribution of quasiparticles. The evolution of the nonequilibrium state is probed by time resolving the changes in the optical response functions of the medium that take place after photoexcitation. Ultimately, the goal of such experiments is to understand not only the nonequilibrium state, but to shed light on the still poorly understood equilibrium properties of these materials. We report nonequilibrium experiments that have revealed aspects of the cup rates that have been inaccessible by other techniques. Namely, the diffusion and recombination coefficients of quasiparticles have been measured in both YBa2Cu3O6.5 and Bi2Sr2CaCu2O8+x using time-resolved optical spectroscopy. Dependence of these measurements on doping, temperature and laser intensity is also obtained. To study the recombination of quasiparticles, we measure the change in reflectivity Delta R which is directly proportional to the nonequilibrium quasiparticle density created by the laser. From the intensity dependence, we estimate beta, the inelastic scattering coefficient and gamma_th thermal equilibrium quasiparticle decay rate. We also present the dependence of recombination measurements on doping in Bi2Sr2CaCu2O8+x. Going from underdoped to overdoped regime, the sign of Delta R changes from positive to negative right at the optimal doping. This is accompanied by a change in dynamics. The decay of Delta R stops being intensity dependent exactly at the optimal doping. We provide possible interpretations of these two observations. To study the propagation of quasiparticles, we interfered two laser pulses to introduce a spatially periodic density of quasiparticles. Probing the evolution of the initialdensity through space and time yielded the quasiparticle diffusion coefficient, and both inelastic and elastic scattering rates. Measured diffusion coefficient suggests that the quasiparticles induced by the laser occupy primarily states near the antinodal regions of the Brillouin zone.

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