"Variation in superconducting transition temperature due to tetragonal domains in two-dimensionally doped SrTiO3"

Hilary Noad: Eric M. Spanton, Katja C. Nowack, Hisashi Inoue, Minu Kim, Tyler A. Merz, Christopher Bell, Yasuyuki Hikita, Ruqing Xu, Wenjun Liu, Arturas Vailionis, Harold Y. Hwang, and Kathryn A. Moler; Physical Review B , 11/28/16.

Additional Authors: Eric M. Spanton, Katja C. Nowack, Hisashi Inoue, Minu Kim, Tyler A. Merz, Christopher Bell, Yasuyuki Hikita, Ruqing Xu, Wenjun Liu, Arturas Vailionis, Harold Y. Hwang, and Kathryn A. Moler

Abstract:

Strontium titanate is a low-temperature, non–Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer superconductor that superconducts to carrier concentrations lower than in any other system and exhibits avoided ferroelectricity at low temperatures. Neither the mechanism of superconductivity in strontium titanate nor the importance of the structure and dielectric properties for the superconductivity are well understood. We studied the effects of twin structure on superconductivity in a 5.5-nm-thick layer of niobium-doped SrTiO3 embedded in undoped SrTiO3. We used a scanning superconducting quantum interference device susceptometer to image the local diamagnetic response of the sample as a function of temperature. We observed regions that exhibited a superconducting transition temperature Tc≳10% higher than the temperature at which the sample was fully superconducting. The pattern of these regions varied spatially in a manner characteristic of structural twin domains. Some regions are too wide to originate on twin boundaries; therefore, we propose that the orientation of the tetragonal unit cell with respect to the doped plane affects Tc. Our results suggest that the anisotropic dielectric properties of SrTiO3 are important for its superconductivity and need to be considered in any theory of the mechanism of the superconductivity.