Two-Gap Superconductivity in LaNiGa_{2} with Nonunitary Triplet Pairing and Even Parity Gap Symmetry

Phys Rev Lett. 2016 Jul 8;117(2):027001. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.117.027001. Epub 2016 Jul 7.

Abstract

The nature of the pairing states of superconducting LaNiC_{2} and LaNiGa_{2} has to date remained a puzzling question. Broken time reversal symmetry has been observed in both compounds and a group theoretical analysis implies a nonunitary triplet pairing state. However, all the allowed nonunitary triplet states have nodal gap functions but most thermodynamic and NMR measurements indicate fully gapped superconductivity in LaNiC_{2}. Here we probe the gap symmetry of LaNiGa_{2} by measuring the London penetration depth, specific heat, and upper critical field. These measurements demonstrate two-gap nodeless superconductivity in LaNiGa_{2}, suggesting that this is a common feature of both compounds. These results allow us to propose a novel triplet superconducting state, where the pairing occurs between electrons of the same spin, but on different orbitals. In this case the superconducting wave function has a triplet spin component but isotropic even parity gap symmetry, yet the overall wave function remains antisymmetric under particle exchange. This model leads to a nodeless two-gap superconducting state which breaks time reversal symmetry, and therefore accounts well for the seemingly contradictory experimental results.