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Why be normal? : single crystal growth and X-ray spectroscopy reveal the startlingly unremarkable electronic structure of Tl-2201 Peets, Darren


High-quality platelet single crystals of Tl₂Ba₂CuO₆±δ (Tl-2201) have been grown using a novel time-varying encapsulation scheme, minimizing the thallium oxide loss that has plagued other attempts and reducing cation substitution. This encapsulation scheme allows the melt to be decanted from the crystals, a step previously impossible, and the remaining cation substitution is homogenized via a high-temperature anneal. Oxygen annealing schemes were developed to produce sharp superconducting transitions from 5 to 85 K without damaging the crystals. The crystals' high homogeneity and high degree of crystalline perfection are further evidenced by narrow rocking curves; the crystals are comparable to YSZ-grown YBa₂Cu₃O₆₊δ by both metrics. Electron probe microanalysis (EPMA) ascertained the crystals' composition to be Tl₁.₉₂₀₍₂₎Ba₁.₉₆₍₂₎Cu₁.₀₈₀₍₂₎O₆₊δ; X-ray diffraction found the composition of a Tc = 75 K crystal to be Tl₁.₉₁₄₍₁₄₎Ba₂Cu₁.₀₈₆₍₁₄₎O₆.₀₇₍₅₎, in excellent agreement. X-ray refinement of the crystal structure found the crystals orthorhombic at most dopings, and their structure to be in general agreement with previous powder data. Cation-substituted Tl-2201 can be orthorhombic, orthorhombic crystals can be prepared, and these superconduct, all new results. X-ray diffraction also found evidence of an as yet unidentified commensurate superlattice modulation. The Tl-2201 crystals' electronic structure were studied by X-ray absorption and emission spectroscopies (XAS/XES). The Zhang-Rice singlet band gains less intensity on overdoping than expected, suggesting a breakdown of the Zhang-Rice singlet approximation, and one thallium oxide band does not disperse as expected. The spectra correspond very closely with LDA band structure calculations, and do not exhibit the upper Hubbard bands arising from strong correlations seen in other cuprates. The spectra are noteworthy for their unprecedented (in the high-Tc cuprates) simplicity. The startling degree to which the electronic structure can be explained bodes well for future research in the cuprates. The overdoped cuprates, and Tl-2201 in particular, may offer a unique opportunity for understanding in an otherwise highly confusing family of materials.

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