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Physics  2004 

Optical spectroscopy of plasmons and excitons in cuprate superconductors

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An introduction is given to collective modes in layered, high Tc superconductors. An experimental demonstration is treated of the mechanism proposed by Anderson whereby photons travelling inside the superconductor become massive, when the U(1) gauge symmetry is broken in the superconductor to which the photons are coupled. Using the Ferrell-Tinkham sumrule the photon mass is shown to have a simple relation to the spectral weight of the condensate. Various forms of Josephson plasmons can exist in single-layer, and bi-layecuprates. In the bi-layer cuprates a transverse optical plasma mode can be observed as a peak in the c-axis optical conductivity. This mode appears as a consequence of the existence of two different intrinsic Josephson couplings between the CuO2 layers. It is strongly related to a collective oscillation corresponding to small fluctuations of the relative phases of the two condensates, which has been predicted in 1966 by A.J. Leggett for superconductors with two bands of charge carriers. A description is given of optical data of the high Tc cuprates demonstrating the presence of these and similar collective modes.


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