It is generally accepted that high temperature superconductors emerge when extra carriers are introduced in the parent state, which looks like a Mott insulator. Competition of the order parameters drives the system into a poorly defined pseudogap state before acquiring the normal Fermi liquid behavior with further doping. Within the low doping level, the system has the tendency for mesoscopic phase separation, which seems to be a general characteristic in all high Tc compounds, but also in the materials of colossal magnetoresistance or the relaxor ferroelectrics. In all these systems, metastable phases can be created by tuning physical variables, such as doping or pressure, and the competing order parameters can drive the compound to various states. Structural instabilities are expected at critical points and Raman spectroscopy is ideal for detecting them, since it is a very sensitive technique for detecting small lattice modifications and instabilities. In this article, phase separation and lattice distortions are examined on the most characteristic family of high temperature superconductors, the cuprates. The effect of doping or atomic substitutions on cuprates is examined concerning the induced phase separation and hydrostatic pressure for activating small local lattice distortions at the edge of lattice instability.
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