3 years ago

Superconductivity in the vicinity of a ferroelectric quantum phase transition.

G. G. Lonzarich, D. A. Tompsett, E. Baggio Saitovitch, S. E. Rowley, C. Enderlein, J. Ferreira de Oliveira, S. S. Saxena

Superconductivity has been observed in doped SrTiO$_3$ at charge-carrier densities below 10$^{18}$ cm$^{-3}$, where the density of states at the Fermi level of the itinerant electrons is several orders of magnitude lower than that of conventional metals. In terms of the Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer description, this implies the existence of an extraordinarily strong interaction driving the formation of Cooper pairs, potentially comparable in order of magnitude to that in some high Tc superconductors. Under suitable conditions the interaction might remain effective at densities approaching metallic densities, leading to the possibility of pair formation at elevated temperatures. Here we investigate the pressure dependence of the resistivity and superconducting transition temperature, Tc, of SrTiO$_3$ at a carrier density near to optimal doping. Our experiments show that Tc collapses rapidly with pressure and hence with increasing frequency of the soft transverse-optical phonon mode connected to the ferroelectric quantum critical point. We show that the superconductivity phase diagram can be understood in terms of the coupling of electrons via the virtual exchange of two hybrid longitudinal polar modes, based on a model of dipolar fluctuations of the charge carrier-ion system. In particular, we predict that for carrier densities above the order of 10$^{18}$ cm$^{-3}$, Tc can be strongly enhanced on approaching the ferroelectric quantum critical point, as seen in our measurements of SrTiO$_3$ and as found in many electrically conducting magnetic analogues. However below this density we predict the reverse behaviour, namely that Tc is suppressed on approaching the ferroelectric quantum critical point. Our model is also relevant to superconductivity found in gated ferroelectric quantum critical systems such as KTaO$_3$ and can guide searches for new superconductors in a diversity of materials.

Publisher URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1801.08121

DOI: arXiv:1801.08121v1

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