Temperature dependence of the mid-infrared dielectric function of YBCO in the ab plane

T Bade, PG McCafferty, C Rea, P Dawson, RJ Wallace, RM Bowman, DG Walmsley, JH Clark

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We have excited mid-infrared surface plasmons in two YBCO thin films of contrasting properties using attenuated total reflection of light and found that the imaginary part of the dielectric function decreases linearly with reduction in temperature. This result is in contrast with the commonly reported conclusion of infrared normal reflectance studies. If sustained it may clarify the problem of understanding the normal state properties of YBCO and the other cuprates. The dielectric function of the films, epsilon = epsilon(1) + i epsilon(2), was determined between room temperature and 80K: epsilon(1) was found to be only slightly temperature dependent but somewhat sample dependent, probably as a result of surface and grain boundary contamination. The imaginary part, epsilon(2), (and the real part of the conductivity, sigma(1),) decreased linearly with reduction in temperature in both films. Results obtained were: for film 1: epsilon(1) = - 14.05 - 0.0024T and epsilon(2) - 4.11 + 0.086T and for film 2: epsilon(1) = - 24.09 + 0.0013T and epsilon(2) = 7.66 + 0.067T where T is the temperature in Kelvin. An understanding of the results is offered in terms of temperature-dependent intrinsic intragrain inelastic scattering and temperature-independent contributions: elastic and inelastic grain boundary scattering and optical interband (or localised charge) absorption. The relative contribution of each is estimated. A key conclusion is that the interband (or localised charge) absorption is only similar to 10%. Most importantly, the intrinsic scattering rate, 1/tau, decreases linearly with fall in temperature, T, in a regime where current theory predicts dependence on frequency, omega, to dominate. The coupling constant, lambda, between the charge carriers and the thermal excitations has a value of 1.7, some fivefold greater than the far infrared value. These results imply a need to restate the phenomenology of the normal state of high temperature superconductors and seek a corresponding theoretical understanding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-310
Number of pages13
JournalPhysica C: Superconductivity and its Applications
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 1996


  • infrared spectroscopy
  • optical reflectivity
  • plasmon
  • thin film
  • superconductor
  • CU-O
  • YBA2CU3O7


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