Evidence for decay of spin waves above the pseudogap of underdoped YBa2Cu3O6.35
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The magnetic spectrum at high energies in heavily underdoped YBa2Cu3O6.35 (Tc=18 K) has been determined throughout the Brillouin zone. At low energy, the scattering forms a cone of spin excitations emanating from the antiferromagnetic (0.5,0.5) wave vector with an acoustic velocity similar to that of insulating cuprates. At high-energy transfers, below the maximum energy of 270 meV at (0.5,0), we observe zone-boundary dispersion much larger and spectral weight loss more extensive than in insulating antiferromagnets. Moreover, we report phenomena not found in insulators, an overall lowering of the zone-boundary energies and a large damping of ~100 meV of the spin excitations at high energies. The energy above which the damping occurs coincides approximately with the gap determined from transport measurements. We propose that as the energy is raised, the spin excitations encounter an extra channel of decay into particle-hole pairs of a continuum that we associate with the pseudogap.