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Second-order structural transition in the superconductor La$$_3$$Co$$_4$$Sn$$_{13}$$

Cheung, Y. W.*; Zhang, J. Z.*; Zhu, J. Y.*; Yu, W. C.*; Hu, Y. J.*; Wang, D. G.*; Otomo, Yuka*; Iwasa, Kazuaki*; Kaneko, Koji; Imai, Masaki*; Kanagawa, Hibiki*; Yoshimura, Kazuyoshi*; Goh, S. K.*

The quasi-skutterudite superconductor La$$_3$$Co$$_4$$Sn$$_{13}$$ undergoes a phase transition at $$T^{*}$$ = 152 K. By measuring the temperature dependence of heat capacity, electrical resistivity, and the superlattice reflection intensity using X-ray, we explore the character of the phase transition at $$T^{*}$$. Our lattice dynamic calculations found imaginary phonon frequencies around the $$M$$ point, when the high temperature structure is used in the calculations, indicating that the structure is unstable at the zero temperature limit. The combined experimental and computational results establish that $$T^{*}$$ is associated with a second-order structural transition with $$q$$ = (0.5, 0.5, 0) (or the $$M$$ point). Further electronic band structure calculations reveal Fermi surface sheets with low-curvature segments, which allow us to draw qualitative comparison with both Sr$$_3$$Ir$$_4$$Sn$$_{13}$$ and Sr$$_3$$Rh$$_4$$Sn$$_{13}$$ in which similar physics has been discussed recently.

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Category:Materials Science, Multidisciplinary

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