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Project log

E. Strambini
added 13 research items
The Josephson effect is a fundamental quantum phenomenon consisting in the appearance of a dissipationless supercurrent in a weak link between two superconducting (S) electrodes. While the mechanism leading to the Josephson effect is quite general, i.e., Andreev reflections at the interface between the S electrodes and the weak link, the precise physical details and topology of the junction drastically modify the properties of the supercurrent. Specifically, a strong enhancement of the critical supercurrent $I_C$ is expected to occur when the topology of the junction allows the emergence of Majorana bound states. Here we report charge transport measurements in mesoscopic Josephson junctions formed by InAs nanowires and Ti/Al superconducting leads. Our main observation is a colossal enhancement of the critical supercurrent induced by an external magnetic field applied perpendicular to the substrate. This striking and anomalous supercurrent enhancement cannot be ascribed to any known conventional phenomenon existing in Josephson junctions including, for instance, Fraunhofer-like diffraction or a $\pi$-state behavior. We also investigate an unconventional model related to inhomogenous Zeeman field caused by magnetic focusing, and note that it can not account for the observed behaviour. Finally, we consider these results in the context of topological superconductivity, and show that the observed $I_C$ enhancement is compatible with a magnetic field-induced topological transition of the junction.
The mutual interaction of localized magnetic moments and their interplay with itinerant conduction electrons in a solid are central to many phenomena in condensed-matter physics, including magnetic ordering and related many-body phenomena such as the Kondo effect, the Ruderman-Kittel-Kasuya-Yoshida interaction and carrier-induced ferromagnetism in diluted magnetic semiconductors. The strength and relative importance of these spin phenomena are determined by the magnitude and sign of the exchange interaction between the localized magnetic moments and also by the mean distance between them. Detailed studies of such systems require the ability to tune the mean distance between the localized magnetic moments, which is equivalent to being able to control the concentration of magnetic impurities in the host material. Here, we present a method for doping a gold film with localized magnetic moments that involves depositing a monolayer of a metal terpyridine complex onto the film. The metal ions in the complexes can be cobalt or zinc, and the concentration of magnetic impurities in the gold film can be controlled by varying the relative amounts of cobalt complexes (which carry a spin) and zinc complexes (which have zero spin). Kondo and weak localization measurements demonstrate that the magnetic impurity concentration can be systematically varied up to ∼800 ppm without any sign of inter-impurity interaction. Moreover, we find no evidence for the unwanted clustering that is often produced when using alternative methods.
Multi-terminal superconducting Josephson junctions based on the proximity effect offer the bright opportunity to tailor non trivial quantum states in nanoscale weak-links. These structures can realize exotic topologies in multidimensions as, for example, artificial topological superconductors able to support Majorana bound states, and pave the way to emerging quantum technologies and future quantum information schemes. Here, we report the first realization of a three-terminal Josephson interferometer based on a proximized nanosized weak-link. Our tunneling spectroscopy measurements reveal transitions between gapped (i.e., insulating) and gapless (i.e., conducting) states, those being controlled by the phase configuration of the three superconducting leads connected to the junction. We demonstrate the $topological$ nature of these transitions: a gapless state necessarily occurs between two gapped states of different topological index, very much like the interface between two insulators of different topology is necessarily conducting. The topological numbers characterizing such gapped states are given by superconducting phase windings over the two loops forming the Josephson interferometer. Since these gapped states cannot be transformed to one another continuously withouth passing through a gapless condition, these are topologically $protected$. Our observation of the gapless state is pivotal for enabling phase engineering of more sophisticated artificial topological materials realizing Weyl points or the anomalous Josephson effect.