In copper-oxide and iron-based high-temperature (high-Tc) superconductors, many physical properties exhibit in-plane anisotropy, which is believed to be caused by a rotational symmetry-breaking nematic order, whose origin and its relationship to superconductivity remain elusive. In many iron pnictides, a tetragonal-to-orthorhombic structural transition temperature Ts coincides with the magnetic transition temperature TN, making the orbital and spin degrees of freedom highly entangled. NaFeAs is a system where Ts=54 K is well separated from TN=42 K, which helps simplify the experimental situation. Here we report nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) measurements on NaFe1-xCoxAs (0≤x≤0.042) that revealed orbital and spin nematicity occurring at a temperature T∗ far above Ts in the tetragonal phase. We show that the NMR spectra splitting and its evolution can be explained by an incommensurate orbital order that sets in below T∗ and becomes commensurate below Ts, which brings about the observed spin nematicity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Condensed Matter Physics