Letter | Published:

Local switching of two-dimensional superconductivity using the ferroelectric field effect

Nature volume 441, pages 195198 (11 May 2006) | Download Citation



Correlated oxides display a variety of extraordinary physical properties including high-temperature superconductivity1 and colossal magnetoresistance2. In these materials, strong electronic correlations often lead to competing ground states that are sensitive to many parameters—in particular the doping level—so that complex phase diagrams are observed. A flexible way to explore the role of doping is to tune the electron or hole concentration with electric fields, as is done in standard semiconductor field effect transistors3. Here we demonstrate a model oxide system based on high-quality heterostructures in which the ferroelectric field effect approach can be studied. We use a single-crystal film of the perovskite superconductor Nb-doped SrTiO3 as the superconducting channel and ferroelectric Pb(Zr,Ti)O3 as the gate oxide. Atomic force microscopy is used to locally reverse the ferroelectric polarization, thus inducing large resistivity and carrier modulations, resulting in a clear shift in the superconducting critical temperature. Field-induced switching from the normal state to the (zero resistance) superconducting state was achieved at a well-defined temperature. This unique system could lead to a field of research in which devices are realized by locally defining in the same material superconducting and normal regions with ‘perfect’ interfaces, the interface being purely electronic. Using this approach, one could potentially design one-dimensional superconducting wires, superconducting rings and junctions, superconducting quantum interference devices (SQUIDs) or arrays of pinning centres.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1.

    & Possible high-Tc superconductivity in the Ba-La-Cu-O system. Z. Phys. B 64, 189–193 (1986)

  2. 2.

    Tokura, Y. (ed.) Advances in Condensed Matter Science Vol. 2, Colossal Magnetoresistive Oxides (Gordon and Breach, London, 2000)

  3. 3.

    , & Electric field effect in correlated oxide systems. Nature 424, 1015–1018 (2003)

  4. 4.

    , & Superconductivity in semiconducting SrTiO3. Phys. Rev. Lett. 12, 474–475 (1964)

  5. 5.

    & Superconducting transition temperatures of Nb-doped SrTiO3. Phys. Lett. A 29, 589–590 (1969)

  6. 6.

    , , , & Superconducting transition temperatures of semiconducting SrTiO3. Phys. Rev. 163, 380–390 (1967)

  7. 7.

    et al. Local, nonvolatile electronic writing of epitaxial Pb(Zr0.52Ti0.48)O3/SrRuO3 heterostructures. Science 276, 1100–1103 (1997)

  8. 8.

    et al. Electrostatic modulation of the electronic properties of Nb-doped SrTiO3 superconducting films. Appl. Phys. Lett. 84, 1722–1724 (2004)

  9. 9.

    & SrTiO3: An intrinsic quantum para-electric below 4 K. Phys. Rev. B 19, 3593–3602 (1979)

  10. 10.

    & Electron mobility in semiconducting strontium titanate. Phys. Rev. 155, 796–802 (1967)

  11. 11.

    , & Ferroelectric field effect in YBa2Cu3O7-δ thin films. Physica C 328, 21–30 (1999)

  12. 12.

    , & Optical absorption and transport in semiconducting SrTiO3. Phys. Rev. B 11, 2299–2309 (1975)

  13. 13.

    et al. Pulsed laser deposition of superconducting Nb-doped strontium titanate thin films. Appl. Phys. Lett. 72, 3065–3067 (1998)

  14. 14.

    et al. Electrostatic modulation of superconductivity in ultrathin GdBa2Cu3O7-x films. Science 284, 1152–1155 (1999)

  15. 15.

    , , , & Field-effect tuning of carrier density in Nd1.2Ba1.8Cu3Oy thin films. Appl. Phys. Lett. 84, 3933–3935 (2004)

  16. 16.

    et al. Electrostatic tuning of the superconductor-insulator transition in two dimensions. Phys. Rev. Lett. 94, 197004 (2005)

  17. 17.

    , & Temperature and purity dependence of superconducting critical field Hc2. III. Electron spin and spin-orbit effects. Phys. Rev. 147, 295–302 (1966)

  18. 18.

    et al. Epitaxial growth and transport properties of Nb-doped SrTiO3 thin films. Proc. SPIE 5932, 267–274 (2005)

  19. 19.

    Introduction to Superconductivity 2nd edn (McGraw-Hill, New York, 1996)

  20. 20.

    & Long range order and metastability in two dimensional solids and superfluids. J. Phys. C 5, L124–L126 (1972)

  21. 21.

    The two-dimensional Coulomb gas, vortex unbinding, and superfluid-superconducting films. Rev. Mod. Phys. 59, 1001–1066 (1987)

  22. 22.

    , & Possibility of vortex-antivortex pair dissociation in two-dimensional superconductors. Phys. Rev. Lett. 42, 1165–1168 (1979)

  23. 23.

    & Vortex-antivortex crystallization in thin superconducting and superfluid films. Phys. Rev. Lett. 71, 2138–2141 (1993)

  24. 24.

    et al. Compact laser molecular beam epitaxy system using laser heating of substrate for oxide film growth. Rev. Sci. Instrum. 70, 178–183 (1999)

Download references


We thank M. Dawber for a careful reading of the manuscript. This work was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation through the National Center of Competence in Research, ‘Materials with Novel Electronic Properties, MaNEP’ and division II, New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) of Japan, and ESF (Thiox).

Author information


  1. DPMC, University of Geneva, 24 Quai Ernest Ansermet, 1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland

    • K. S. Takahashi
    • , D. Jaccard
    •  & J.-M. Triscone
  2. Laboratoire de Physique des Solides, Université de Paris-Sud, 91405 Orsay, France

    • M. Gabay
  3. Institute for Solid State Physics, University of Tokyo, Chiba 277-8581, Japan

    • K. Shibuya
    • , T. Ohnishi
    •  & M. Lippmaa


  1. Search for K. S. Takahashi in:

  2. Search for M. Gabay in:

  3. Search for D. Jaccard in:

  4. Search for K. Shibuya in:

  5. Search for T. Ohnishi in:

  6. Search for M. Lippmaa in:

  7. Search for J.-M. Triscone in:

Competing interests

Reprints and permissions information is available at npg.nature.com/reprintsandpermissions. The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to J.-M. Triscone.

About this article

Publication history






Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.