Dimensional crossover and incipient quantum size effects in superconducting niobium nanofilms.
ABSTRACT: Superconducting and normal state properties of Niobium nanofilms have been systematically investigated as a function of film thickness, on different substrates. The width of the superconducting-to-normal transition for all films is remarkably narrow, confirming their high quality. The superconducting critical current density exhibits a pronounced maximum for thickness around 25?nm, marking the 3D-to-2D crossover. The magnetic penetration depth shows a sizeable enhancement for the thinnest films. Additional amplification effects of the superconducting properties have been obtained with sapphire substrates or squeezing the lateral size of the nanofilms. For thickness close to 20?nm we measured a doubled perpendicular critical magnetic field compared to its large thickness value, indicating shortening of the correlation length and the formation of small Cooper pairs. Our data analysis indicates an exciting interplay between quantum-size and proximity effects together with strong-coupling effects and the importance of disorder in the thinnest films, placing these nanofilms close to the BCS-BEC crossover regime.
Project description:Due to the ongoing improvement in nanostructuring technology, ultrathin metallic nanofilms have recently gained substantial attention in plasmonics, e.g. as building blocks of metasurfaces. Typically, noble metals such as silver or gold are the materials of choice, due to their excellent optical properties, however they also possess some intrinsic disadvantages. Here, we introduce niobium nanofilms (~10 nm thickness) as an alternate plasmonic platform. We demonstrate functionality by depositing a niobium nanofilm on a plasmonic fiber taper, and observe a dielectric-loaded niobium surface-plasmon excitation for the first time, with a modal attenuation of only 3-4 dB/mm in aqueous environment and a refractive index sensitivity up to 15 μm/RIU if the analyte index exceeds 1.42. We show that the niobium nanofilm possesses bulk optical properties, is continuous, homogenous, and inert against any environmental influence, thus possessing several superior properties compared to noble metal nanofilms. These results demonstrate that ultrathin niobium nanofilms can serve as a new platform for biomedical diagnostics, superconducting photonics, ultrathin metasurfaces or new types of optoelectronic devices.
Project description:Here we report a novel nitridation technique for transforming niobium into hexagonal Nb<sub>2</sub>N which appears to be superconducting below 1K. The nitridation is achieved by high temperature annealing of Nb films grown on Si<sub>3</sub>N<sub>4</sub>/Si (100) substrate under high vacuum. The structural characterization directs the formation of a majority Nb<sub>2</sub>N phase while the morphology shows granular nature of the films. The temperature dependent resistance measurements reveal a wide metal-to-superconductor transition featuring two distinct transition regions. The region close to the normal state varies strongly with the film thickness, whereas, the second region in the vicinity of the superconducting state remains almost unaltered but exhibiting resistive tailing. The current-voltage characteristics also display wide transition embedded with intermediate resistive states originated by phase slip lines. The transition width in current and the number of resistive steps depend on film thickness and they both increase with decrease in thickness. The broadening in transition width is explained by progressive establishment of superconductivity through proximity coupled superconducting nano-grains while finite size effects and quantum fluctuation may lead to the resistive tailing. Finally, by comparing with Nb control samples, we emphasize that Nb<sub>2</sub>N offers unconventional superconductivity with promises in the field of phase slip based device applications.
Project description:Continuous and uniform carbon nanofilms (CNFs) are prepared by pyrolysis of polyimide films which are produced by molecular layer deposition (MLD). The film thickness can be easily controlled at nanometer scale by altering the cycle numbers. During the annealing process at 600 °C, the polyimide film is subject to shrinkage of 70% in thickness. The obtained CNFs do not exhibit a well-graphitized structure due to the low calcination temperature. No clear pore structures are observed in the produced films. CNFs grown on a glass substrate with a thickness of about 1.4 nm shows almost 98% optical transmittance in the visible spectrum range. Au nanoparticles coated with CNFs are produced by this method. Carbon nanotubes with uniform wall thickness are obtained using anodic aluminum oxide as a template by depositing polyimide films into its pores. Our results demonstrate that this method is very effective to coat conformal and uniform CNFs on various substrates, such as nanoparticles and porous templates, to produce functional composite nanomaterials.
Project description:Self-assembled nanostructures of tyrosine-rich peptides have a number of potential applications such as biocatalysts, organic conducting films, and ion-selective membranes. In modulating a self-assembly process of peptides, the interfacial force is an important factor for kinetic control. Here, we present the formation of large-sized and thickness-controllable nanofilms from the YYACAYY peptide sequence (Tyr-C7mer peptide) using Langmuir-Blodgett and Langmuir-Schaefer deposition methods. The Tyr-C7mer peptide showed typical surfactant-like properties, which were demonstrated via the isotherm test (surface pressure-area) by spreading the Tyr-C7mer peptide solution onto an air/water interface. Uniform and flat peptide nanofilms were successfully fabricated and characterized. The redox activity of densely packed tyrosine moieties on the peptide nanofilm was also evaluated by assembling silver nanoparticles on the nanofilm without requiring any additives.
Project description:Bulk niobium Superconducting Radio-Frequency cavities are a leading accelerator technology. Their performance is limited by the cavity loss and maximum acceleration gradient, which are negatively affected by vortex penetration into the superconductor when the peak magnetic field at the cavity wall surface exceeds the vortex penetration field (Hvp). It has been proposed that coating the inner wall of an SRF cavity with superconducting thin films increases Hvp. In this work, we utilized Nb ellipsoid to simulate an inverse SRF cavity and investigate the effect of coating it with magnesium diboride layer on the vortex penetration field. A significant enhancement of Hvp was observed. At 2.8?K, Hvp increased from 2100?Oe for an uncoated Nb ellipsoid to 2700?Oe for a Nb ellipsoid coated with ~200?nm thick MgB2 thin film. This finding creates a new route towards achieving higher acceleration gradient in SRF cavity accelerator beyond the theoretical limit of bulk Nb.
Project description:Kondo effect is an interesting phenomenon in quantum many-body physics. Niobium (Nb) is a conventional superconductor important for many superconducting device applications. It was long thought that the Kondo effect cannot be observed in Nb because the magnetic moment of a magnetic impurity, e.g. iron (Fe), would have been quenched in Nb. Here we report an observation of the Kondo effect in a Nb thin film structure. We found that by co-annealing Nb films with Fe in Argon gas at above 400 [Formula: see text]C for an hour, one can induce a Kondo effect in Nb. The Kondo effect is more pronounced at higher annealing temperature. The temperature dependence of the resistance suggests existence of remnant superconductivity at low temperatures even though the system never becomes superconducting. We find that the Hamann theory for the Kondo resistivity gives a satisfactory fitting to the result. The Hamann analysis gives a Kondo temperature for this Nb-Fe system at [Formula: see text] 16 K, well above the superconducting transition onset temperature 9 K of the starting Nb film, suggesting that the screening of the impurity spins is effective to allow Cooper pairs to form at low temperatures. We suggest that the mechanism by which the Fe impurities retain partially their magnetic moment is that they are located at the grain boundaries, not fully dissolved into the bcc lattice of Nb.
Project description:Aiming to introduce NbTi alloy superconducting joints for REBa<sub>2</sub>Cu<sub>3</sub>O<sub>7-δ</sub> (REBCO, RE: rare-earth element) superconducting wires, NbTi alloy thin films were deposited at room temperature on SrTiO<sub>3</sub> (STO) (001) single-crystal substrates, which have a high lattice matching with REBCO (001). The strain, crystallinity, surface morphology, and superconducting property of the films with various thicknesses were investigated. The NbTi films grew in the orientation with (110)NbTi//(001)STO:NbTi and [11-0] NbTi//STO; that is, the NbTi lattices had two directions in the (110) of NbTi. The strain decreased and the crystallinity improved as the film thickness increased. The films were found to crystallize immediately at the interface between the films and substrates by cross-sectional scanning transmission electron microscopy. The flat surfaces of the films have mesh-like morphologies due to the growth of elongated NbTi grains along the  and  of the STO, reflecting the in-plane two directions of the NbTi lattices. The superconducting transition temperature of the films increased with improvement in the crystallinity of the films. The preparation of superconducting NbTi alloy thin films with sufficient crystallinity at room temperature suggested the possibility of forming the films on REBCO and the applicability of the films as superconducting joints.
Project description:Elemental type-II superconducting niobium is the material of choice for superconducting radiofrequency cavities used in modern particle accelerators, light sources, detectors, sensors, and quantum computing architecture. An essential challenge to increasing energy efficiency in rf applications is the power dissipation due to residual magnetic field that is trapped during the cool down process due to incomplete magnetic field expulsion. New SRF cavity processing recipes that use surface doping techniques have significantly increased their cryogenic efficiency. However, the performance of SRF Nb accelerators still shows vulnerability to a trapped magnetic field. In this manuscript, we report the observation of a direct link between flux trapping and incomplete flux expulsion with spatial variations in microstructure within the niobium. Fine-grain recrystallized microstructure with an average grain size of 10-50 µm leads to flux trapping even with a lack of dislocation structures in grain interiors. Larger grain sizes beyond 100-400 µm do not lead to preferential flux trapping, as observed directly by magneto-optical imaging. While local magnetic flux variations imaged by magneto-optics provide clarity on a microstructure level, bulk variations are also indicated by variations in pinning force curves with sequential heat treatment studies. The key results indicate that complete control of the niobium microstructure will help produce higher performance superconducting resonators with reduced rf losses<sup>1</sup> related to the magnetic flux trapping.
Project description:Superconducting joints are essential for persistent-mode operation in a superconducting magnet system to produce an ultra-stable magnetic field. Herein, we report rationally designed niobium-titanium (Nb-Ti) superconducting joints and their evaluation results in detail. For practical applications, superconducting joints were fabricated by using a solder matrix replacement method with two types of lead-bismuth (Pb-Bi) solder, including Pb42Bi58 as a new composition. All the joints attained a critical current of >200?A below 1.43?T at 4.2?K. Our optimized superconducting joining method was tested in a closed-loop coil, obtaining a total circuit resistance of 3.25?×?10-14 ? at 4.2?K in self-field. Finally, persistent-mode operation was demonstrated in an Nb-Ti solenoid coil with a persistent-current switch. This work will pave the way to developing high-performance Nb-Ti superconducting joints for practical applications.
Project description:Recent studies suggest that in disordered ultrathin films superconducting (SC) state may be intrinsically inhomogeneous. Here we investigate the nature of SC state in ultrathin Nb films, of thickness d ranging from 1.2 to 20 nm, which undergo a transition from amorphous to polycrystalline structure at the thickness [Formula: see text] nm. We show that the properties of SC state are very different in polycrystalline and amorphous films. The upper critical field ([Formula: see text]) is orbitally limited in the first case, and paramagnetically limited in the latter. The magnetic field induced superconductor-metal transition is observed, with the critical field approximately constant or decreasing as a power-law with the film conductance in polycrystalline or amorphous films, respectively. The scaling analysis indicates distinct scaling exponents in these two types of films. Negative contribution of the SC fluctuations to conductivity exists above [Formula: see text], particularly pronounced in amorphous films, signaling the presence of fluctuating Cooper pairs. These observations suggest the development of local inhomogeneities in the amorphous films, in the form of proximity-coupled SC islands. An usual evolution of SC correlations on cooling is observed in amorphous films, likely related to the effect of quantum fluctuations on the proximity-induced phase coherence.