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See detailUltra-narrow superconducting junctions: electromigration to shed light on quantum point contacts
Baumans, Xavier ULiege; Cerbu, Dorin; Adami, Obaïd-Allah ULiege et al

Conference (2016, September 06)

Superconducting nanowires have been, for years now, a topic of great interest due to their potential application in single photon detectors and in quantum computing circuits. In this context, it is of ... [more ▼]

Superconducting nanowires have been, for years now, a topic of great interest due to their potential application in single photon detectors and in quantum computing circuits. In this context, it is of fundamental importance to better understand the undesired and harmful appearance of thermal and quantum fluctuations of the superconducting order parameter [1]-[3] as a function of the wire width. Although superconductors in the mesoscopic regime (i.e. size comparable to ξ and/or λ) have been explored both experimentally and theoretically in depth, the superconducting nanoworld (i.e. at scales of the fermi wavelength) has received much less attention. The lack of experimental results is in part due to the difficulty of sample fabrication, at dimensions beyond the limit reached by conventional lithographic techniques. A promising direction consists of controlling the local displacement of atom by an electron wind, a process known as electromigration (EM) [4] . This effect relies on the combination of local temperature rise and substantial current crowding at nanoconstrictions. While uncontrolled, EM is responsible for the breakdown of small electronic devices, it can be used in a controllable way to further decrease locally the cross section of the nanowire towards single atomic contacts. In this work, we explore in-situ controlled EM to fabricate nano-constrictions immersed in cryogenic environment. We demonstrate that a transition from thermally assisted phase slips (TAPS) to quantum phase slips (QPS) takes place when the effective cross section becomes smaller than ~ 150 nm 2 . In the regime dominated by QPS the nanowire loses completely its capacity to carry current without dissipation, even at the lowest possible temperature [5] . We also demonstrate that the bow-tie shaped constrictions exhibit a negative magnetoresistance at low magnetic fields [5] which can be attributed to the suppression of superconductivity in the contact leads [6] . Strikingly, the detrimental effect caused by the repeated EM can be healed by simply inverting the current direction. These findings reveal the strong potential of the proposed fabrication method to explore various fascinating superconducting phenomena in atomic-size constrictions. [less ▲]

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See detailElectric current crowding effects in microstructured superconductors
Adami, Obaïd-Allah ULiege

Doctoral thesis (2016)

Many applications of modern electronic devices are based on thin film geometries including sharp turns, holes and exhibiting inhomogeneities. The inevitable detour of current streamlines around such ... [more ▼]

Many applications of modern electronic devices are based on thin film geometries including sharp turns, holes and exhibiting inhomogeneities. The inevitable detour of current streamlines around such obstacles cause an inhomogeneous current density profile giving rise to current crowding. The goal of my research is to highlight the current crowding effects in micro and nanopatterned superconducting films. [less ▲]

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See detailMagnetic flux penetration in Nb superconducting films with lithographically defined micro-indentations
Brisbois, Jérémy ULiege; Adami, Obaïd-Allah ULiege; Avila Osses, Jonathan ULiege et al

in Physical Review B (2016), 93(5), 054521

We present a thorough investigation by magneto-optical imaging of the magnetic flux penetration in Nb thin films with lithographically defined border indentations. We demonstrate that discontinuity lines ... [more ▼]

We present a thorough investigation by magneto-optical imaging of the magnetic flux penetration in Nb thin films with lithographically defined border indentations. We demonstrate that discontinuity lines (d-lines), caused by the abrupt bending of current streamlines around the indentations, depart from the expected parabolic trend close to the defect and depend on the shape and size of the indentation as well as on the temperature. These findings are backed up and compared with theoretical results obtained by numerical simulations and analytical calculations highlighting the key role played by demagnetization effects and the creep exponent n. In addition, we show that the presence of nearby indentations and submicrometer random roughness of the sample border can severely modify the flux front topology and dynamics. Strikingly, in contrast to what has been repeatedly predicted in the literature, we do not observe that indentations act as nucleation spots for flux avalanches, but they instead help to release the flux pressure and avoid thermomagnetic instabilities. [less ▲]

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See detailThermal and quantum depletion of superconductivity in narrow junctions created by controlled electromigration
Baumans, Xavier ULiege; Cerbu, Dorin; Adami, Obaïd-Allah ULiege et al

in Nature Communications (2016), 7

Superconducting nanowires currently attract great interest due to their application in single-photon detectors and quantum-computing circuits. In this context, it is of fundamental importance to ... [more ▼]

Superconducting nanowires currently attract great interest due to their application in single-photon detectors and quantum-computing circuits. In this context, it is of fundamental importance to understand the detrimental fluctuations of the superconducting order parameter as the wire width shrinks. In this paper, we use controlled electromigration to narrow down aluminium nanoconstrictions. We demonstrate that a transition from thermally assisted phase slips to quantum phase slips takes place when the cross section becomes less than 150 nm2 . In the regime dominated by quantum phase slips the nanowire loses its capacity to carry current without dissipation, even at the lowest possible temperature. We also show that the constrictions exhibit a negative magnetoresistance at low-magnetic fields, which can be attributed to the suppression of superconductivity in the contact leads. These findings reveal perspectives of the proposed fabrication method for exploring various fascinating superconducting phenomena in atomic-size contacts. [less ▲]

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See detailThe onset, evolution and magnetic braking of vortex lattice instabilities in nanostructured superconducting films
Adami, Obaïd-Allah ULiege; Jelic, Zeljko ULiege; Xue, Cun et al

in Physical Review. B : Condensed Matter (2015), 92

In 1976 Larkin and Ovchinnikov [Sov. Phys. JETP 41, 960 (1976)] predicted that vortex matter in superconductors driven by an electrical current can undergo an abrupt dynamic transition from a flux-flow ... [more ▼]

In 1976 Larkin and Ovchinnikov [Sov. Phys. JETP 41, 960 (1976)] predicted that vortex matter in superconductors driven by an electrical current can undergo an abrupt dynamic transition from a flux-flow regime to a more dissipative state at suficiently high vortex velocities. Typically this transition manifests itself as a large voltage jump at a particular current density, so-called instability current density J, which is smaller than the depairing current. By tuning the effective pinning strength in Al fi lms, using an artifi cial periodic pinning array of triangular holes, we show that a unique and well defi ned instability current density exists if the pinning is strong, whereas a series of multiple voltage transitions appear in the relatively weaker pinning regime. This behavior is consistent with time-dependent Ginzburg-Landau simulations, where the multiple-step transition can be unambiguously attributed to the progressive development of vortex chains and subsequently phase-slip lines. In addition, we explore experimentally the magnetic braking e ffects, caused by a thick Cu layer deposited on top of the superconductor, on the instabilities and the vortex ratchet effect. [less ▲]

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See detailClassical analogy for the deflection of flux avalanches by a metallic layer
Brisbois, Jérémy ULiege; Vanderheyden, Benoît ULiege; Colauto, Fabiano et al

in New Journal of Physics (2014), 16(10), 103003

Sudden avalanches of magnetic flux bursting into a superconducting sample undergo deflections of their trajectories when encountering a conductive layer deposited on top of the superconductor. Remarkably ... [more ▼]

Sudden avalanches of magnetic flux bursting into a superconducting sample undergo deflections of their trajectories when encountering a conductive layer deposited on top of the superconductor. Remarkably, in some cases the flux is totally excluded from the area covered by the conductive layer. We present a simple classical model that accounts for this behaviour and considers a magnetic monopole approaching a semi-infinite conductive plane. This model suggests that magnetic braking is an important mechanism responsible for avalanche deflection. [less ▲]

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See detailCurrent crowding effects in superconducting corner-shaped Al microstrips
Adami, Obaïd-Allah ULiege; Cerbu, Dorin; Cabosart, Damien et al

in Applied Physics Letters (2013)

The superconducting critical current of corner-shaped Al superconducting microstrips has been investigated. We demonstrate that the sharp turns lead to asymmetric vortex dynamics, allowing for easier ... [more ▼]

The superconducting critical current of corner-shaped Al superconducting microstrips has been investigated. We demonstrate that the sharp turns lead to asymmetric vortex dynamics, allowing for easier penetration from the inner concave angle than from the outer convex angle. This effect is evidenced by a rectification of the voltage signal otherwise absent in straight superconducting strips. At low magnetic fields, an enhancement of the critical current with increasing magnetic field is observed for a particular combination of field and current polarity, confirming a theoretically predicted competing interplay of superconducting screening currents and applied currents at the inner side of the turn. [less ▲]

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