Massarotti, Davide (2013) Macroscopic quantum phenomena in superconductors: study of phase dynamics and dissipation in moderately damped Josephson junctions. [Tesi di dottorato]


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Item Type: Tesi di dottorato
Lingua: English
Title: Macroscopic quantum phenomena in superconductors: study of phase dynamics and dissipation in moderately damped Josephson junctions
Date: 2 April 2013
Number of Pages: 107
Institution: Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II
Department: Scienze fisiche
Scuola di dottorato: Scienze fisiche
Dottorato: Fisica fondamentale ed applicata
Ciclo di dottorato: 25
Coordinatore del Corso di dottorato:
Date: 2 April 2013
Number of Pages: 107
Uncontrolled Keywords: Macroscopic quantum tunneling; phase dynamics; moderately damped regime; phase diffusion
Settori scientifico-disciplinari del MIUR: Area 02 - Scienze fisiche > FIS/01 - Fisica sperimentale
Area 02 - Scienze fisiche > FIS/03 - Fisica della materia
Date Deposited: 05 Apr 2013 15:42
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2014 09:21


The topic of the PhD project is a comparative study of phase dynamics and macroscopic quantum phenomena in moderately damped NbN, YBaCuO grain boundary (GB) Josephson junctions (JJs) and hybrid devices. This type of research activity responds to the needs of better identifying phase dynamics in JJs in the moderately damped regime, which is going to be more and more common in hybrid nanostructures. Issues on a more detailed understanding of coherence, dissipation and noise in the various devices have a relevant role in the progress of quantum circuits. In the last few years, studies of phase dynamics and macroscopic quantum phenomena have been extended to junctions composed of materials other than the traditional low critical temperature superconductors (LTS) and to novel types of structures with unconventional barriers composed for instance of graphene sheets or of grain boundaries. Progress in engineering new materials into junctions and in understanding and controlling the physics of interfaces may offer novel solutions for junctions of superior quality and complementary functionalities, and therefore may lead in the long run to improve also specific qubit performances. For LTS JJs, once the barrier thickness and the critical current density (Jc) have been fixed, a reduction in its size unavoidably leads to a lowering of the critical current and determines a quite different phase dynamics re-normalized to the new scaling energy. Lower critical currents Ic result in lower Josephson energies EJ, and higher levels of dissipation are expected. The range of the energy dynamical parameters is significantly enlarged, and it is technologically easier to reproducibly realize nontrivial configurations. These devices are characterized by intermediate levels of dissipation (moderately damped regime) and by phase diffusion phenomena. The low Jc limit seems to be characteristic also of all futuristic nanohybrids devices incorporating nanowires, and the moderately damped regime (MDR) is intrinsically more common than it could be expected. Measurements of switching current distribution (SCD) in these last years have turned to be standard tools to investigate phase dynamics in unconventional and hybrid systems and nanostructures. High critical temperature superconductors (HTS) are an example of unconventional systems, because of the d-wave order parameter symmetry and of the presence of low-energy quasiparticles, which are expected to induce high level of dissipation and as a consequence to spoil macroscopic quantum coherence. A comparative study in systems so different and complementary is of great interest. During the PhD program, we have performed measurements of SCD, both in the thermal and quantum regime down to 20 mK, on moderately damped NbN/MgO/NbN JJs and on YBCO biepitaxial GB JJs. The NbN JJs exhibit a crossover from thermal activation (TA) to macroscopic quantum tunneling (MQT) regime at about 90 mK. After the MQT saturation, the width of the SCD follows the expected dependence in the TA regime. Deviations are evident in proximity and above the crossover temperature T* (about 1.6K) where we find effects of anti-correlation between the bath temperature and thermal fluctuations since the width of the histograms starts to collapse, and indications of a transition to a third regime called phase diffusion (PD) are evident, such as the change of the switching distributions symmetry. Experimental data have been analyzed through numerical fitting of the switching probability and Monte Carlo simulations, and we found a good agreement with theoretical expectations based on multiple re-trapping processes, which strongly depend on the junction damping. The combined analysis of these three regimes allowed us to extract the fundamental parameters, which completely characterize the dynamics of such moderately damped NbN JJs. In addition, clear signatures of the PD regime have been detected and numerical methods have been developed to estimate the dissipation level in the MDR. As a term of comparison, the studies on moderately damped systems have been also carried out on HTS junctions, which have different levels of intrinsic dissipation induced by low energy quasi-particles, and are for this reason of great impact as a reference. In such JJs we have clearly observed a direct transition from the MQT to the PD regime. The width of the SCDs is constant below 100mK, which is a clearly indication of a quantum activation regime. Above 100mK the negative temperature derivative of the width is consistent with a diffusive motion due to multiple escape and re-trapping in the potential wells. Thermal behavior of the width has been fitted through numerical simulations, thus providing the estimate of the damping factor. These conclusions of a PD regime also in YBaCuO JJs are supported by data in presence of an externally applied magnetic field, and are consistent with the numerical outcomes. Numerical simulations of the thermal behavior of the SCD width for different values of the quality factor ranging from 1 to 10 have been carried out. Such numerical simulations allow us to reconstruct a (Q, kBT/EJ) phase diagram summarizing the various activation regimes. The transition curve between the PD regime and the running state following thermal or quantum activation has been determined numerically by varying the damping factor Q as function of the ratio between the thermal energy and the Josephson energy. The result of the calculation is a universal curve. A phase diagram valid in a large range of dissipation conditions emerges as a functional guide to classify the switching behavior and to settle the fundamental junction parameters and energies in the MDR. It is therefore a reference for phase dynamics of novel types of junction and system for which the nature of the current induced transition from the superconducting to the normal state has not been completely clarified.

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