Calculated partial Fermi surface of YNi2B2C. Colors denote different bands crossing the Fermi energy.
Philipp Kurzhals, Geoffroy Kremer, Thomas Jaouen, Christopher W. Nicholson, Rolf Heid, Peter Nagel, John-Paul Castellan, Alexandre Ivanov, Matthias Muntwiler, Maxime Rumo, Bjoern Salzmann, Vladimir N. Strocov, Dmitry Reznik, Claude Monney & Frank Weber
Electron-phonon coupling, i.e., the scattering of lattice vibrations by electrons and vice versa, is ubiquitous in solids and can lead to emergent ground states such as superconductivity and charge-density wave order. A broad spectral phonon line shape is often interpreted as a marker of strong electron-phonon coupling associated with Fermi surface nesting, i.e., parallel sections of the Fermi surface connected by the phonon momentum. Alternatively broad phonons are known to arise from strong atomic lattice anharmonicity. Here, we show that strong phonon broadening can occur in the absence of both Fermi surface nesting and lattice anharmonicity, if electron-phonon coupling is strongly enhanced for specific values of electron-momentum, k. We use inelastic neutron scattering, soft x-ray angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy measurements and ab-initio lattice dynamical and electronic band structure calculations to demonstrate this scenario in the highly anisotropic tetragonal electron-phonon superconductor YNi2B2C. This new scenario likely applies to a wide range of compounds.