We study the effects of hydrostatic pressure (HP) compression on the superconducting transition of severely strained Nb samples, whose grain sizes are reduced to the submicrometer level. Engineered granularity by high-pressure torsion (HPT) treatment changes the strength of coupling between submicrometer-scale grains and introduces lattice strain. We attempt to utilize the initially accumulated shear strain in the starting material for increasing the superconducting transition temperature T c under HP compression. The HP effects on non-strained Nb have already been investigated in the pressure regime over 100 GPa by Struzhkin et al. [Phys. Rev. Lett. 79, 4262 (1997)], and T c reportedly exhibited an increase from 9.2 to 9.9 K at approximately 10 GPa. (1) Slightly strained Nb in the HPT treatment exhibits the increase in T c under HP due to the strengthening of the intergrain coupling, so the pressure scale of the pressure response observed by Struzhkin et al. is reduced to approximately one-seventh at the maximum. (2) Prominently strained Nb in the HPT treatment exhibits the increase in T c under HP due to a reduction in structural symmetry at the unit-cell level: In a Nb sample subjected to HPT (6 GPa, 10 revolutions), T c exceeds 9.9 K at approximately 2 GPa. According to our first-principle calculations, the reduction in the structural symmetry affords an increase in the density of states at the Fermi energy, thereby yielding a prominent increase in T c at low pressures.
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