Strong Increase of Tc of Sr2RuO4 Under Both Tensile and Compressive Strain

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Science  18 Apr 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6181, pp. 283-285
DOI: 10.1126/science.1248292

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Strained Superconductor

Distorting a material and observing its response can allow insight into its electronic properties. Thin films can be strained by placing them on a substrate with a different lattice constant; bulk samples present more of a challenge. Hicks et al. (p. 283) designed an apparatus to apply both tensile and compressive strain and used it to study the properties of the superconductor Sr2RuO4, which has long been hypothesized to host the unusual p-wave superconductivity. The response of the superconducting transition temperature Tc to the applied strain depended on the direction in which the strain was applied, and did not exhibit a cusp predicted to occur around zero strain. As the technique leaves a surface of the probe open to external probes, it could be adopted for a wide range of methods.


A sensitive probe of unconventional order is its response to a symmetry-breaking field. To probe the proposed px ± ipy topological superconducting state of Sr2RuO4, we have constructed an apparatus capable of applying both compressive and tensile strains of up to 0.23%. Strains applied along Embedded Image crystallographic directions yield a strong, strain-symmetric increase in the superconducting transition temperature Tc. Embedded Image strains give a much weaker, mostly antisymmetric response. As well as advancing the understanding of the superconductivity of Sr2RuO4, our technique has potential applicability to a wide range of problems in solid-state physics.

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