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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Abrupt onset of a second energy gap at the superconducting transition of underdoped Bi2212


he superconducting gap--an energy scale tied to the superconducting phenomena--opens on the Fermi surface at the superconducting transition temperature (Tc) in conventional BCS superconductors. In underdoped high-Tc superconducting copper oxides, a pseudogap (whose relation to the superconducting gap remains a mystery) develops well above Tc (refs 1, 2). Whether the pseudogap is a distinct phenomenon or the incoherent continuation of the superconducting gap above Tc is one of the central questions in high-Tc research3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Although some experimental evidence suggests that the two gaps are distinct9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, this issue is still under intense debate. A crucial piece of evidence to firmly establish this two-gap picture is still missing: a direct and unambiguous observation of a single-particle gap tied to the superconducting transition as function of temperature. Here we report the discovery of such an energy gap in underdoped Bi2Sr2CaCu2O8+delta in the momentum space region overlooked in previous measurements. Near the diagonal of Cu?O bond direction (nodal direction), we found a gap that opens at Tc and has a canonical (BCS-like) temperature dependence accompanied by the appearance of the so-called Bogoliubov quasi-particles, a classical signature of superconductivity. This is in sharp contrast to the pseudogap near the Cu?O bond direction (antinodal region) measured in earlier experiments19, 20, 21.

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