Superconductivity in dilute SrTiO3: A review

Maria N. Gastiasoro, Jonathan Ruhman, Rafael M. Fernandes

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Doped SrTiO3, one of the most dilute bulk systems to display superconductivity, is perhaps the first example of an unconventional superconductor, as it does not fit into the standard BCS paradigm. More than five decades of research has revealed a rich temperature-carrier concentration phase diagram that showcases a superconducting dome, proximity to a putative quantum critical point, Lifshitz transitions, a multi-gap pairing state and unusual normal-state transport properties. Research has also extended beyond bulk SrTiO3, ushering the new field of SrTiO3-based heterostructures. Because many of these themes are also featured in other quantum materials of contemporary interest, recent years have seen renewed interest in SrTiO3. Here, we review the challenges and recent progress in elucidating the superconducting state of this model system. At the same time that its extreme dilution requires to revisit several of the approximations that constitute the successful Migdal–Eliashberg description of electron–phonon superconductivity, including the suppression of the Coulomb repulsion via the Tolmachev–Anderson–Morel mechanism, it opens interesting routes for alternative pairing mechanisms whose applicability remains under debate. For instance, pairing mechanisms involving longitudinal optical phonons have to overcome the hurdles created by the anti-adiabatic nature of the pairing interaction, whereas mechanisms that rely on the soft transverse optical phonons associated with incipient ferroelectricity face challenges related to the nature of the electron–phonon coupling. Proposals in which pairing is mediated by plasmons or promoted locally by defects are also discussed. We finish by surveying the existing evidence for multi-band superconductivity and outlining promising directions that can potentially shed new light on the rich problem of superconductivity in SrTiO3.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number168107
JournalAnnals of Physics
StatePublished - Jun 2020

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