Spin-orbit coupling suppression and singlet-state blocking of spin-triplet Cooper pairs

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Science Advances  13 Jan 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 3, eabe0128
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abe0128


An inhomogeneous magnetic exchange field at a superconductor/ferromagnet interface converts spin-singlet Cooper pairs to a spin-polarized triplet state. Although the decay envelope of triplet pairs within ferromagnetic materials is well studied, little is known about their decay in nonmagnetic metals and superconductors and, in particular, in the presence of spin-orbit coupling (SOC). Here, we investigate devices in which singlet and triplet supercurrents propagate into the s-wave superconductor Nb. In the normal state of Nb, triplet supercurrents decay over a distance of 5 nm, which is an order of magnitude smaller than the decay of spin-singlet pairs due to the SOC. In the superconducting state of Nb, triplet supercurrents are not able to couple with the singlet wave function and are thus blocked by the absence of available equilibrium states in the singlet gap. The results offer insight into the dynamics between s-wave singlet and s-wave triplet states.

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