Terahertz-light quantum tuning of a metastable emergent phase hidden by superconductivity

Academic Article


  • 'Sudden' quantum quench and prethermalization have become a cross-cutting theme for discovering emergent states of matter 1-4 . Yet this remains challenging in electron matter 5-9, especially superconductors 10-14 . The grand question of what is hidden underneath superconductivity (SC) 15 appears universal, but poorly understood. Here we reveal a long-lived gapless quantum phase of prethermalized quasiparticles (QPs) after a single-cycle terahertz (THz) quench of a Nb3Sn SC gap. Its conductivity spectra is characterized by a sharp coherent peak and a vanishing scattering rate that decreases almost linearly towards zero frequency, which is most pronounced around the full depletion of the condensate and absent for a high-frequency pump. Above a critical pump threshold, such a QP phase with coherent transport and memory persists as an unusual prethermalization plateau, without relaxation to normal and SC thermal states for an order of magnitude longer than the QP recombination and thermalization times. Switching to this metastable 'quantum QP fluid' signals non-thermal quench of coupled SC and charge-density-wave (CDW)-like orders and hints quantum control beneath the SC.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Nature Materials  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Yang X; Vaswani C; Sundahl C; Mootz M; Gagel P; Luo L; Kang JH; Orth PP; Perakis IE; Eom CB
  • Start Page

  • 586
  • End Page

  • 591
  • Volume

  • 17
  • Issue

  • 7