In conventional superconductors, the superconducting gap in the electronic excitation spectrum prevents scattering of low-energy electrons. In high-temperature superconductors (HTSs), an extra gap, the pseudogap, develops well above the superconducting transition temperature T(C). Here, we present a new avenue of investigating the pseudogap state, using scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM) of resonances generated by single-atom scatterers. Previous studies on the superconducting state of HTSs have led to a fairly consistent picture in which potential scatterers, such as Zn, strongly suppress superconductivity in an atomic-scale region, while generating low-energy excitations with a spatial distributionas imaged by STMindicative of the d-wave nature of the superconducting gap. Surprisingly, we find that similar native impurity resonances coexist spatially with the superconducting gap at low temperatures and survive virtually unchanged on warming through T(C). These findings demonstrate that properties of impurity resonances in HTSs are not determined by the nature of the superconducting state, as previously suggested, but instead provide new insights into the pseudogap state.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)