The Search for Circular Dichroism in High Tc Superconductors (Abstract)

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Stimulated by recent predictions of broken time reversal symmetry in cuprate superconductors, we have carried out a study of the polar Kerr ellipticity (the ellipticity of normally reflected light with the incident beam linearly polarized) for various cuprate materials, both superconducting and nonsuperconducting. The technique used employs a rotating half wave retardation plate in order to discriminate against linear polarization effects. The results reveal a signature of a nonzero polar Kerr ellipticity which appears on cooling near 200 K in a variety of superconducting materials, and which is not observed in the corresponding insulating compounds. In this talk, in addition to summarizing these results, we plan to discuss the measurement technique itself in some detail. Measurements on both thin films and bulk samples will be discussed, together with a variety of tests on unrelated materials, which serve to eliminate various possible experimental artifacts.



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