Identifying the mechanism of superconductivity in the high-temperature cuprate superconductors is one of the major outstanding problems in physics. We report local measurements of the onset of superconducting pairing in the high-transition temperature (Tc) superconductor Bi2Sr 2CaCu2O8+δ using a lattice-tracking spectroscopy technique with a scanning tunneling microscope. We can determine the temperature dependence of the pairing energy gaps, the electronic excitations in the absence of pairing, and the effect of the local coupling of electrons to bosonic excitations. Our measurements reveal that the strength of pairing is determined by the unusual electronic excitations of the normal state, suggesting that strong electron-electron interactions rather than low-energy (<0.1 volts) electron-boson interactions are responsible for superconductivity in the cuprates.
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