Superconductivity in an infinite-layer nickelate

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Abstract

The discovery of unconventional superconductivity in (La,Ba)2CuO4 (ref. 1) has motivated the study of compounds with similar crystal and electronic structure, with the aim of finding additional superconductors and understanding the origins of copper oxide superconductivity. Isostructural examples include bulk superconducting Sr2RuO4 (ref. 2) and surface-electron-doped Sr2IrO4, which exhibits spectroscopic signatures consistent with a superconducting gap3,4, although a zero-resistance state has not yet been observed. This approach has also led to the theoretical investigation of nickelates5,6, as well as thin-film heterostructures designed to host superconductivity. One such structure is the LaAlO3/LaNiO3 superlattice7,8,9, which has been recently proposed for the creation of an artificially layered nickelate heterostructure with a singly occupied \({d}_{{x}^{2}-{y}^{2}}\) band. The absence of superconductivity observed in previous related experiments has been attributed, at least in part, to incomplete polarization of the eg orbitals10. Here we report the observation of superconductivity in an infinite-layer nickelate that is isostructural to infinite-layer copper oxides11,12,13. Using soft-chemistry topotactic reduction14,15,16,17,18,19,20, NdNiO2 and Nd0.8Sr0.2NiO2 single-crystal thin films are synthesized by reducing the perovskite precursor phase. Whereas NdNiO2 exhibits a resistive upturn at low temperature, measurements of the resistivity, critical current density and magnetic-field response of Nd0.8Sr0.2NiO2 indicate a superconducting transition temperature of about 9 to 15 kelvin. Because this compound is a member of a series of reduced layered nickelate crystal structures21,22,23, these results suggest the possibility of a family of nickelate superconductors analogous to copper oxides24 and pnictides25.

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Fig. 1: Topotactic reduction of nickelate thin films.
Fig. 2: Structural characterization of the doped nickelate thin films.
Fig. 3: Transport properties and superconductivity of the nickelate thin films.
Fig. 4: Magnetic-field response of superconducting Nd0.8Sr0.2NiO2.

Data availability

The data presented in the figures and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding authors upon reasonable request.

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Acknowledgements

We thank A. Kapitulnik, S. A. Kivelson, W.-S. Lee, Y. Z. Li, S. Raghu and Z. X. Shen for discussions. This work was supported by the US Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Division of Materials Sciences and Engineering, under contract number DE-AC02-76SF00515. D.L. acknowledges partial support by the Swiss National Science Foundation, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s Emergent Phenomena in Quantum Systems Initiative through grant number GBMF4415, which also supported S.C. and provided synthesis equipment. M.O. acknowledges partial financial support from the Takenaka Scholarship Foundation.

Author information

D.L., Y.H. and H.Y.H. conceived the project. D.L. and M.O. grew the nickelate films and conducted the reduction experiments. K.L., D.L., M.O., H.R.L. and Y.C. conducted materials and structural characterization. B.Y.W., S.C. and D.L. performed the transport and mutual-inductance measurements. D.L. and H.Y.H. wrote the manuscript with contribution from all authors.

Correspondence to Danfeng Li or Harold Y. Hwang.

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