Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A very strange metal

The linear chain compound Li0.9Mo6O17 exhibits a subtle competition between superconductivity, a "bad" metal, and a strange "insulating" phase. Recently large deviations from the Weidemann-Franz law were reported by Nigel Hussey's group.

The graph below shows the temperature dependence of the electrical resistance for current parallel to the chain direction. It has a "metallic" temperature dependence above about 30 K, and an "insulating" temperature dependence between the superconducting transition temperature around 1 K and 30 K. This is rather unusual and puzzling since one normally sees a direct transition from a metallic phase to a superconducting phase. Although there are other cases such as reported in this PRB [see Fig. 2 inset] for an organic charge transfer salt where a superconducting state occurs close to a charge ordered insulator [see also the Table in this PRL].
The data is taken from a Europhys. Lett. by Chen et al. which also reports a rather strange angular dependent magnetoresistance.

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