Enhanced superconductivity in plastically deformed strontium titanate


The properties of quantum materials are commonly tuned using experimental variables such as pressure, magnetic field and doping. Here we explore a different approach: irreversible, plastic deformation of single crystals. We show for the superconductor SrTiO$_3$ that compressive plastic deformation induces low-dimensional superconductivity significantly above the superconducting transition temperature ($T_c$) of undeformed samples. We furthermore present evidence for unusual normal-state transport behaviour that suggests superconducting correlations at temperatures two orders of magnitude above the bulk $T_c$. The superconductivity enhancement is correlated with the appearance of self-organized dislocation structures, as revealed by diffuse neutron and X-ray scattering. These results suggest that $T_c$ in SrTiO$_3$ is strongly influenced by the local strain surrounding dislocations, consistent with a theory of superconductivity enhanced by soft polar fluctuations. More broadly, our results demonstrate the promise of plastic deformation and dislocation engineering as tools to manipulate electronic properties of quantum materials.Comment: 5 figures, included supplemen

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This paper was published in e-Print Archive.

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