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Phase-Slip Lines and Anomalous Josephson Effects in Tungsten Nanoscale Cluster-Based Topological Insulator Nanobridges: Implications for Topologically Protected Qubits and Quantum Sensors

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posted on 2024-02-07, 19:06 authored by Dong-Xia Qu, Joseph J. Cuozzo, Nick E. Teslich, Keith G. Ray, Zurong Dai, Tian T. Li, George F. Chapline, Jonathan L. DuBois, Enrico Rossi
Superconducting topological systems formed by a strong 3D topological insulator (TI) in proximity to a conventional s-wave superconductor (SC) have been intensely studied, as they may host Majorana zero modes. However, there are limited experimental realizations of TI-SC systems in which robust superconducting pairing is induced on the surface states of the TI and a topological superconducting state is established. Here, we fabricate a TI-SC system by depositing, via a focused ion beam, tungsten (W) nanoscale clusters on the surface of TI Bi0.91Sb0.09. We find that the resulting heterostructure supports phase-slip lines (PSLs) that act as effective Josephson junctions (JJs). We probe the response of the system to microwave radiation. We find that for some ac frequencies, and powers, the resulting Shapiro steps’ structure of the voltage–current characteristic exhibits a missing first step and an unexpectedly wide second Shapiro step. The theoretical analysis of the measurements shows that the unusual Shapiro response arises from the interplay between a static JJ and a dynamic one and allows us to identify the conditions under which the missing first step can be attributed to the topological nature of the JJs formed by the PSLs. Our results suggest an approach to induce superconductivity in a TI, a route to realizing highly transparent topological JJs, and show how the response of superconducting systems to microwave radiation can be used to infer the dynamics of PSLs. Highly transparent topological junctions are promising candidates to realize vector field sensors with very high sensitivity. In addition, due to the nontrivial Berry phase of the TI’s surface states such junctions can be in a topological state which is ideal to create topologically protected qubits.

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