"Superconductivity in an infinite-layer nickelate"

Danfeng Li: Kyuho Lee, Bai Yang Wang, Motoki Osada, Samuel Crossley, Hye Ryoung Lee, Yi Cui, Yasuyuki Hikita & Harold Y. Hwang; Nature, 08/28/19.

Additional Authors: Kyuho Lee, Bai Yang Wang, Motoki Osada, Samuel Crossley, Hye Ryoung Lee, Yi Cui, Yasuyuki Hikita & Harold Y. Hwang


The discovery of unconventional superconductivity in (La,Ba)2CuO4 (ref. 1) has motivated the study of compounds with similar crystal and electronic structure, with the aim of finding additional superconductors and understanding the origins of copper oxide superconductivity. Isostructural examples include bulk superconducting Sr2RuO4 (ref. 2) and surface-electron-doped Sr2IrO4, which exhibits spectroscopic signatures consistent with a superconducting gap3,4, although a zero-resistance state has not yet been observed. This approach has also led to the theoretical investigation of nickelates5,6, as well as thin-film heterostructures designed to host superconductivity. One such structure is the LaAlO3/LaNiO3 superlattice7,8,9, which has been recently proposed for the creation of an artificially layered nickelate heterostructure with a singly occupied  d x2 – yband. The absence of superconductivity observed in previous related experiments has been attributed, at least in part, to incomplete polarization of the eg orbitals10. Here we report the observation of superconductivity in an infinite-layer nickelate that is isostructural to infinite-layer copper oxides11,12,13. Using soft-chemistry topotactic reduction14,15,16,17,18,19,20, NdNiO2 and Nd0.8Sr0.2NiO2 single-crystal thin films are synthesized by reducing the perovskite precursor phase. Whereas NdNiO2 exhibits a resistive upturn at low temperature, measurements of the resistivity, critical current density and magnetic-field response of Nd0.8Sr0.2NiO2 indicate a superconducting transition temperature of about 9 to 15 kelvin. Because this compound is a member of a series of reduced layered nickelate crystal structures21,22,23, these results suggest the possibility of a family of nickelate superconductors analogous to copper oxides24 and pnictides25.