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The Lifshitz nature of the transition between the gap and gapless states of a superconductor

Yuriy Yerin, Caterina Petrillo, A. A. Varlamov

SciPost Phys. Core 5, 009 (2022) · published 18 February 2022

Abstract

It is demonstrated that the known for a long time transition between the gap and the gapless states in the Abrikosov-Gor'kov theory of a superconductor with paramagnetic impurities is of the Lifshitz type, i.e. of the $2\frac12$ order phase transition. We reveal the emergence of a cuspidal edge at the density of states surface $N(\omega,\Delta_0)$ ($\Delta_0$ is the value of the superconducting order parameter in the absence of magnetic impurities) and the occurrence of the catastrophe phenomenon at the transition point. We study the stability of such a transition with respect to the spatial fluctuations of the magnetic impurities critical concentration $n_s$ and show that the requirement for validity of its mean field description is unobtrusive: $\nabla \left( {\ln {n_s}} \right) \ll \xi^{-1} $ (here $\xi$ is the superconducting coherence length). Finally, we show that, similarly to the Lifshitz point, the $2\frac12$ order phase transition should be accompanied by the corresponding singularities. For instance, the superconducting thermoelectric effect has a giant peak exceeding the normal value of the Seebeck coefficient by the ratio of the Fermi energy and the superconducting gap. The concept of the experiment for the confirmation of $2\frac12$ order transition nature is proposed. The obtained theoretical results can be applied for the explanation of recent experiments with lightwave-driven gapless superconductivity, for the new interpretation of the disorder induced transition $s_{\pm}$-$s_{++}$ states via gapless state in multi-band superconductors, for better understanding of the gapless color superconductivity in quantum chromodynamics, the string theory.

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