Inducing superconductivity in Weyl semimetal microstructures by selective ion sputtering

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Science Advances  24 May 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 5, e1602983
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1602983

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By introducing a superconducting gap in Weyl or Dirac semimetals, the superconducting state inherits the nontrivial topology of their electronic structure. As a result, Weyl superconductors are expected to host exotic phenomena, such as nonzero-momentum pairing due to their chiral node structure, or zero-energy Majorana modes at the surface. These are of fundamental interest to improve our understanding of correlated topological systems, and, moreover, practical applications in phase-coherent devices and quantum applications have been proposed. Proximity-induced superconductivity promises to allow these experiments on nonsuperconducting Weyl semimetals. We show a new route to reliably fabricate superconducting microstructures from the nonsuperconducting Weyl semimetal NbAs under ion irradiation. The significant difference in the surface binding energy of Nb and As leads to a natural enrichment of Nb at the surface during ion milling, forming a superconducting surface layer (Tc ~ 3.5 K). Being formed from the target crystal itself, the ideal contact between the superconductor and the bulk may enable an effective gapping of the Weyl nodes in the bulk because of the proximity effect. Simple ion irradiation may thus serve as a powerful tool for the fabrication of topological quantum devices from monoarsenides, even on an industrial scale.

  • Weyl semi-metals
  • proximity-induced superconductivity
  • Majorana-mode
  • selective ion sputtering
  • microstructuring
  • topological quantum devices

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