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High-temperature superconductivity in a family of iron pnictide materials



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Gillett, Jack 


The work in this thesis falls roughly into three parts, which I characterise loosely as a developmental stage, an exploratory stage, and an attempt to contribute to understanding of the field. In the developmental stage, I have worked to design a variety of methods to create high-quality samples of various Iron Pnictide superconductors, to dope them with various chemicals and to characterise the resulting crystalline samples. I discuss in depth the signature of good quality crystals and the various experiments that they have been used in by myself and my collaborators. These processes are ongoing and will hopefully continue to contribute to my research group’s capabilities. My exploratory work involves a detailed survey of one particular family, Sr(Fe1−xCox)2As2, as the level of Cobalt is varied, and the mapping of the phase diagram for the system. I have also made a comparison to the better-measured Barium analogue, and discuss the reasons for the differences in character between the two, most notably the lack of a splitting of the structural and magnetic transitions in the first species. I also discuss the effect of pressure, which can lead to superconductivity in lightly doped samples for very modest pressures; and annealing, which increases transition temperatures within samples, on a limited quantity of crystals. Finally, I attempt to contribute to the understanding of the field via a series of Resonant Ultrasound Spectroscopic experiments conducted by a collaborator on my crystals and analysed by me. I see distinct first-order transitions in the parent compounds, characterisable above the high-T structural transition within a Ginzburg-Landau pseudoproper ferroelastic scheme for a transition coupling weakly to strain but driven by another order parameter. My observations allow several statements about the symmetry of the order parameter and are suggestive of a non-magnetically driven structural transition. In the case of doped samples a much richer behavior is seen, with a broad transition and simultaneous relaxation of all elastic peaks and a broad temperature range of significant dispersion. The effect of the softening is seen far above TN and lends strong support to the familiy of models predicting such high-T fluctuations.





Iron pnictides, Superconductivity, Resonant ultrasound spectroscopy, Flux growth, Ginzburg Landau free energy


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
PhD Studentship funded by EPSRC; Jack Gillett also thanks Trinity College for support and accommodation during studentship.