The role of phase separation and the effect of Fe-vacancy ordering in the emergence of superconductivity in alkali metal doped iron selenides AxFe2-ySe2 (A = K, Rb, Cs) is explored. High energy x-ray diffraction and Monte Carlo simulation were used to investigate the crystal structure of quenched superconducting (SC) and as-grown nonsuperconducting (NSC) KxFe2-ySe2 single crystals. The coexistence of superlattice structures with the in-plane 2×2 K-vacancy ordering and the 5×5 Fe-vacancy ordering were observed in both the SC and NSC crystals alongside the I4/mmm Fe-vacancy-free phase. Moreover, in the SC crystals, an Fe-vacancy-disordered phase is additionally proposed to be present. Monte Carlo simulations suggest that it appears at the boundary between the I4/mmm vacancy-free phase and the I4/m vacancy-ordered phases (5×5). The vacancy-disordered phase is nonmagnetic and is most likely the host of superconductivity.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Condensed Matter Physics