We expand the well-known notion that quantum criticality can induce superconductivity by proposing a concrete mechanism for superconductivity due to quantum ferroelectric fluctuations. To this end, we investigate the origin of superconductivity in doped SrTiO3 using a combination of density functional and strong coupling theories within the framework of quantum criticality. Our density functional calculations of the ferroelectric soft mode frequency as a function of doping reveal a crossover related to quantum paraelectricity at a doping level coincident with the experimentally observed top of the superconducting dome. Thus, we suggest a model in which the soft mode fluctuations provide the pairing interaction for superconductivity carriers. Within our model, the low doping limit of the superconducting dome is explained by the emergence of the Fermi surface, and the high doping limit by departure from the quantum critical regime. We predict that the highest critical temperature will increase and shift to lower carrier doping with increasing 18O isotope substitution, a scenario that is experimentally verifiable. Our model is applicable to other quantum paraelectrics, such as KTaO3.
Physical Review Letters