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Abstract

High Tc superconductivity in cuprates is still an unresolved topic, and one particular challenge is why in-plane compressive strain enhances Tc in ultra thin LSCO-214 films (< 40nm), whilst tensile strain diminishes it. Especially intriguing is whether altering this strain at a given doping has an effect on T* (pseudogap) or Tc (condensation/phase coherence). As the ratio between T* and Tc is so high, we systematically grew a series of BSCCO-2201 films by in house pulsed laser deposition (PLD), and then thoroughly analysed these films with X-Rays, four point resistivity measurements and XPS. We succeeded to induce strain into the films; however, the strain was lost in the annealing process necessary for superconductivity. Subsequently, we focused on LSCO-214 films, and grew a series of strained ultra thin films of this compound. While the films were superconducting, none of our samples showed enhanced superconduc- tivity, probably due to growth disorder.Therefore, we eventually studied high quality films grown by MBE from BNL. We used the low energy muon beamline at PSI to perform μSR studies on two different com- pressive strain states. The successful measurements of the penetration depth and Ginzburg- Landau parameter κ on ultra thin films of this type using low energy muons showed the benefits of this technique. As the 2 films were of different thicknesses, further studies need to be done to disentangle which observed effects are due to strain and/or variation in c-axis, and which are due solely to thickness. Our accumulated results and those of other groups, (notably Naito et. al. at NTT) on strain in LSCO-214 films, and the ensemble of data, including our study, indicate that most likely it is a phase coherence enhancement due to the in-plane compressive strain that raises the Tc. In summary, in addition to the succesful implementation of PLD heteroepitaxy, XRD analysis and ρ(T) studies of LSCO-214 films we were able to establish that: 1. Phase coherence is improved by in plane compressive strain, hence Tc enhancement 2. Tc also seems to scale with apical oxygen, as previously reported by H. Keller et. al., and local distortions around the copper-oxygen tetrahedra 3. Last but not least, we were even able to induce strain into BSCCO-2201 films, yet at present the full electronic properties of this system are neither measured nor under- stood. Finally, further systematic studies on μSR are proposed, and are indeed underway at PSI, to further elucidate the microscopic role of strain in the mechanism of high Tc superconductivity.

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