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Concept: Brian David Josephson


Nonlinear and switchable metamaterials achieved by artificial structuring on the subwavelength scale have become a central topic in photonics research. Switching with only a few quanta of excitation per metamolecule, metamaterial’s elementary building block, is the ultimate goal, achieving which will open new opportunities for energy efficient signal handling and quantum information processing. Recently, arrays of Josephson junction devices have been proposed as a possible solution. However, they require extremely high levels of nanofabrication. Here we introduce a new quantum superconducting metamaterial which exploits the magnetic flux quantization for switching. It does not contain Josephson junctions, making it simple to fabricate and scale into large arrays. The metamaterial was manufactured from a high-temperature superconductor and characterized in the low intensity regime, providing the first observation of the quantum phenomenon of flux exclusion affecting the far-field electromagnetic properties of the metamaterial.

Concepts: Quantum mechanics, Physics, Condensed matter physics, Superconductivity, Josephson effect, SQUID, Magnetic flux quantum, Brian David Josephson


The Josephson effect is perhaps the prototypical manifestation of macroscopic phase coherence, and forms the basis of a widely used electronic interferometer–the superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID). In 1965, Maki and Griffin predicted that the thermal current through a temperature-biased Josephson tunnel junction coupling two superconductors should be a stationary periodic function of the quantum phase difference between the superconductors: a temperature-biased SQUID should therefore allow heat currents to interfere, resulting in a thermal version of the electric Josephson interferometer. This phase-dependent mechanism of thermal transport has been the subject of much discussion but, surprisingly, has yet to be realized experimentally. Here we investigate heat exchange between two normal metal electrodes kept at different temperatures and tunnel-coupled to each other through a thermal ‘modulator’ (ref. 5) in the form of a direct-current SQUID. We find that heat transport in the system is phase dependent, in agreement with the original prediction. Our Josephson heat interferometer yields magnetic-flux-dependent temperature oscillations of up to 21 millikelvin in amplitude, and provides a flux-to-temperature transfer coefficient exceeding 60 millikelvin per flux quantum at 235 millikelvin. In addition to confirming the existence of a phase-dependent thermal current unique to Josephson junctions, our results point the way towards the phase-coherent manipulation of heat in solid-state nanocircuits.

Concepts: Condensed matter physics, Phase, Heat transfer, Superconductivity, Josephson effect, SQUID, Magnetic flux quantum, Brian David Josephson


In a conventional Josephson junction of graphene, the supercurrent is not turned off even at the charge neutrality point, impeding further development of superconducting quantum information devices based on graphene. Here we fabricate bipolar Josephson junctions of graphene, in which a p-n potential barrier is formed in graphene with two closely spaced superconducting contacts, and realize supercurrent ON/OFF states using electrostatic gating only. The bipolar Josephson junctions of graphene also show fully gate-driven macroscopic quantum tunnelling behaviour of Josephson phase particles in a potential well, where the confinement energy is gate tuneable. We suggest that the supercurrent OFF state is mainly caused by a supercurrent dephasing mechanism due to a random pseudomagnetic field generated by ripples in graphene, in sharp contrast to other nanohybrid Josephson junctions. Our study may pave the way for the development of new gate-tuneable superconducting quantum information devices.

Concepts: Quantum mechanics, Fundamental physics concepts, Condensed matter physics, Superconductivity, Josephson effect, SQUID, Magnetic flux quantum, Brian David Josephson


Superconducting electronics based on Josephson junctions are used to sense and process electronic signals with minimal loss, however they are ultrasensitive to magnetic fields, limited in their amplification capabilities, and difficult to manufacture. We have developed a 3 terminal, nanowire-based superconducting electrothermal device which has no Josephson junctions. This device, which we call the nanocryotron, can be patterned from a single thin film of superconducting material with conventional electron-beam lithography. The nanocryotron has a demonstrated gain of >20, can drive impedances of 100 kΩ, and operates in typical ambient magnetic fields. We have additionally applied it both as a digital logic element in a half-adder circuit, and as a digital amplifier for superconducting nanowire single-photon detectors pulses. The nanocryotron has immediate applications in classical and quantum communications, photon sensing, and astronomy, and its input characteristics are suitable for integration with existing superconducting technologies.

Concepts: Electron, Quantum mechanics, Condensed matter physics, Superconductivity, Josephson effect, SQUID, Amplifier, Brian David Josephson


In some materials the competition between superconductivity and magnetism brings about a variety of unique phenomena such as the coexistence of superconductivity and magnetism in heavy-fermion superconductors or spin-triplet supercurrent in ferromagnetic Josephson junctions. Recent observations of spin-charge separation in a lateral spin valve with a superconductor evidence that these remarkable properties are applicable to spintronics, although there are still few works exploring this possibility. Here, we report the experimental observation of the quasiparticle-mediated spin Hall effect in a superconductor, NbN. This compound exhibits the inverse spin Hall (ISH) effect even below the superconducting transition temperature. Surprisingly, the ISH signal increases by more than 2,000 times compared with that in the normal state with a decrease of the injected spin current. The effect disappears when the distance between the voltage probes becomes larger than the charge imbalance length, corroborating that the huge ISH signals measured are mediated by quasiparticles.

Concepts: Electron, Magnetic field, Fundamental physics concepts, Condensed matter physics, Superconductivity, Spintronics, Josephson effect, Brian David Josephson


The Josephson effect describes the flow of supercurrent in a weak link-such as a tunnel junction, nanowire or molecule-between two superconductors. It is the basis for a variety of circuits and devices, with applications ranging from medicine to quantum information. Experiments using Josephson circuits that behave like artificial atoms are now revolutionizing the way we probe and exploit the laws of quantum physics. Microscopically, the supercurrent is carried by Andreev pair states, which are localized at the weak link. These states come in doublets and have energies inside the superconducting gap. Existing Josephson circuits are based on properties of just the ground state of each doublet, and so far the excited states have not been directly detected. Here we establish their existence through spectroscopic measurements of superconducting atomic contacts. The spectra, which depend on the atomic configuration and on the phase difference between the superconductors, are in complete agreement with theory. Andreev doublets could be exploited to encode information in novel types of superconducting qubits.

Concepts: Quantum mechanics, Condensed matter physics, Atom, Superconductivity, Josephson effect, SQUID, Magnetic flux quantum, Brian David Josephson


Obtaining high efficiency spin-filtering at room temperature using spinel ferromagnetic tunnel barriers has been hampered by the formation of antiphase boundaries (APBs) due to their difference in lattice parameter between barrier and electrodes. In this work, we demonstrate the use of LiTi2O4 thin films as electrodes in an all-spinel oxide CoFe2O4-based spin filter devices. These structures show nearly perfect epitaxy maintained throughout the structure and so minimise the potential for APB formation. The LiTi2O4 in these devices is superconducting and so measurements at low temperature have been used to explore details of the tunnelling and Josephson junction behaviour.

Concepts: Condensed matter physics, Metrology, Superconductivity, Josephson effect, SQUID, Magnetic flux quantum, Brian David Josephson, Pi Josephson junction


The emerging field of phase-coherent caloritronics (from the Latin word calor, heat) is based on the possibility of controlling heat currents by using the phase difference of the superconducting order parameter. The goal is to design and implement thermal devices that can control energy transfer with a degree of accuracy approaching that reached for charge transport by contemporary electronic components. This can be done by making use of the macroscopic quantum coherence intrinsic to superconducting condensates, which manifests itself through the Josephson effect and the proximity effect. Here, we review recent experimental results obtained in the realization of heat interferometers and thermal rectifiers, and discuss a few proposals for exotic nonlinear phase-coherent caloritronic devices, such as thermal transistors, solid-state memories, phase-coherent heat splitters, microwave refrigerators, thermal engines and heat valves. Besides being attractive from the fundamental physics point of view, these systems are expected to have a vast impact on many cryogenic microcircuits requiring energy management, and possibly lay the first stone for the foundation of electronic thermal logic.

Concepts: Quantum mechanics, Fundamental physics concepts, Condensed matter physics, Superconductivity, Josephson effect, SQUID, Magnetic flux quantum, Brian David Josephson


A layered two-dimensional superconducting material 2H-NbSe2 is used to build a van der Waals heterostructure, where a proximity-coupled superconducting order can be induced in the interfacing materials. Vertically stacked NbSe2-graphene-NbSe2 is fabricated using van der Waals coupling between dry-transferred layers, producing defect-free contacts with a high interfacial transparency. The atomically thin graphene layer allows the formation of a highly coherent proximity Josephson coupling between the two NbSe2 flakes. The temperature dependence of the junction critical current (Ic) reveals short and ballistic Josephson coupling characteristics that agree with theoretical prediction. The strong Josephson coupling is confirmed by a large junction critical current density of 1.6 × 10(4) A/cm(2), multiple Andreev reflections in the subgap structure of the differential conductance, and a magnetic-field modulation of Ic. This is the first demonstration of strongly proximity-coupled Josephson junctions with extremely clean interfaces in a dry-transfer-stacked van der Waals heterostructure.

Concepts: Electric charge, Fundamental physics concepts, Condensed matter physics, Layer, Superconductivity, OSI model, Josephson effect, Brian David Josephson


The Josephson effect, tunnelling of a supercurrent through a thin insulator layer between two superconducting islands, is a phenomena characterized by a spatially distributed phase of the superconducting condensate. In recent years, there has been a growing focus on Josephson junction devices particularly for the applications of quantum metrology and superconducting qubits. In this study, we report the development of Josephson junction circuit formed by serially connecting many Superconducting Quantum Interference Devices, SQUIDs. We present experimental measurements as well as numerical simulations of a phase-slip center, a SQUID with weaker junctions, embedded in a Josephson junction chain. The DC transport properties of the chain are the result of phase slips which we simulate using a classical model that includes linear external damping, terminating impedance, as well as internal nonlinear quasiparticle damping. We find good agreement between the simulated and the experimental current voltage characteristics. The simulations allow us to examine the spatial and temporal distribution of phase-slip events occurring across the chains and also the existence of travelling voltage pulses which reflect at the chain edges.

Concepts: Condensed matter physics, Metrology, Superconductivity, Josephson effect, SQUID, Elementary charge, Magnetic flux quantum, Brian David Josephson