Research ArticlePHYSICS

Nonequilibrium optical control of dynamical states in superconducting nanowire circuits

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Science Advances  30 Mar 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 3, eaao0043
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aao0043


Optical control of states exhibiting macroscopic phase coherence in condensed matter systems opens intriguing possibilities for materials and device engineering, including optically controlled qubits and photoinduced superconductivity. Metastable states, which in bulk materials are often associated with the formation of topological defects, are of more practical interest. Scaling to nanosize leads to reduced dimensionality, fundamentally changing the system’s properties. In one-dimensional superconducting nanowires, vortices that are present in three-dimensional systems are replaced by fluctuating topological defects of the phase. These drastically change the dynamical behavior of the superconductor and introduce dynamical periodic long-range ordered states when the current is driven through the wire. We report the control and manipulation of transitions between different dynamically stable states in superconducting δ3-MoN nanowire circuits by ultrashort laser pulses. Not only can the transitions between different dynamically stable states be precisely controlled by light, but we also discovered new photoinduced hidden states that cannot be reached under near-equilibrium conditions, created while laser photoexcited quasi-particles are outside the equilibrium condition. The observed switching behavior can be understood in terms of dynamical stabilization of various spatiotemporal periodic trajectories of the order parameter in the superconductor nanowire, providing means for the optical control of the superconducting phase with subpicosecond control of timing.

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