A Large Iron Isotope Effect in SmFeAsO1-xFx and Ba1-xKxFe2As2

Liu, R. H.
Wu, T.
Wu, G.
Chen, H.
Wang, X. F.
Xie, Y. L.
Yin, J. J.
Yan, Y. J.
Li, Q. J.
Shi, B. C.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
The recent discovery of superconductivity in oxypnictides with the critical temperature (TC) higher than McMillan limit of 39 K (the theoretical maximum predicted by Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer (BCS) theory) has generated great excitement. Theoretical calculations indicate that the electron-phonon interaction is not strong enough to give rise to such high transition temperatures, while strong ferromagnetic/antiferromagnetic fluctuations have been proposed to be responsible. However, superconductivity and magnetism in pnictide superconductors show a strong sensitivity to the lattice, suggesting a possibility of unconventional electron-phonon coupling. Here we report the effect of oxygen and iron isotopic mass on Tc and the spin-density wave (SDW) transition temperature (TSDW) in SmFeAsO1-xFx and Ba1-xKxFe2As2 systems. The results show that oxygen isotope effect on TC and TSDW is very little, while the iron isotope exponent alpha=-dlnTc/dlnM is about 0.35, being comparable to 0.5 for the full isotope effect. Surprisingly, the iron isotope exchange shows the same effect on TSDW as TCc These results indicate that electron-phonon interaction plays some role in the superconducting mechanism, but simple electron-phonon coupling mechanism seems to be rather unlikely because a strong magnon-phonon coupling is included. Sorting out the interplay between the lattice and magnetic degrees of freedom is a key challenge for understanding the mechanism of high-TC superconductivity.
Comment: 22 pages, 7 figure
Condensed Matter - Superconductivity, Condensed Matter - Strongly Correlated Electrons