Spontaneously broken time-reversal symmetry in high-temperature superconductors
Journal article, 2015
Conventional superconductors are strong diamagnets that, through the Meissner effect, expel magnetic fields. It would therefore be surprising if a superconducting ground state would support spontaneous magnetics fields. Such time-reversal symmetry-broken states have been proposed for the high-temperature superconductors, but their identification remains experimentally controversial. Here we show a route to a low-temperature superconducting state with broken time-reversal symmetry that may accommodate currently conflicting experiments. This state is characterized by an unusual vortex pattern in the form of a necklace of fractional vortices around the perimeter of the material, where neighbouring vortices have opposite current circulation. This vortex pattern is a result of a spectral rearrangement of current-carrying states near the edges.