Superconductivity in Te-Deficient ZrTe2

Image credit: Copyright © 2023 The Authors. Published by American Chemical Society


We present structural, electrical, and thermoelectric potential measurements on high-quality single crystals of ZrTe1.8 grown from isothermal chemical vapor transport. These measurements show that the Te-deficient ZrTe1.8, which forms the same structure as the nonsuperconducting ZrTe2, is superconducting below 3.2 K. The temperature dependence of the upper critical field (Hc2) deviates from the behavior expected in conventional single-band superconductors, being best described by an electron–phonon two-gap superconducting model with strong intraband coupling. For the ZrTe1.8 single crystals, the Seebeck potential measurements suggest that the charge carriers are predominantly negative, in agreement with the ab initio calculations. Through first-principles calculations within DFT, we show that the slight reduction of Te occupancy in ZrTe2 unexpectedly gives origin to density of states peaks at the Fermi level due to the formation of localized Zr-d bands, possibly promoting electronic instabilities at the Fermi level and an increase at the critical temperature according to the standard BCS theory. These findings highlight that the Te deficiency promotes the electronic conditions for the stability of the superconducting ground state, suggesting that defects can fine-tune the electronic structure to support superconductivity.

In The Journal of Physical Chemistry C