The superconducting proximity effect in epitaxial Al/Pb nanocompositesThe superconducting proximity effect in epitaxial Al/Pb nanocomposites
Faculty of Sciences. Physics
Electron microscopy for materials research (EMAT)
Superconductor science and technology. - Bristol
27(2014):1, p. 1-8
University of Antwerp
We have investigated the superconducting properties of Pb nanoparticles with a diameter ranging from 8 to 20 nm, synthesized by Pb+ ion implantation in a crystalline Al matrix. A detailed structural characterization of the nanocomposites reveals the highly epitaxial relation between the Al crystalline matrix and the Pb nanoparticles. The Al/Pb nanocomposites display a single superconducting transition, with the critical temperature T-c increasing with the Pb content. The dependence of T-c on the Pb/Al volume ratio was compared with theoretical models of the superconducting proximity effect based on the bulk properties of Al and Pb. A very good correspondence with the strong-coupling proximity effect model was found, with an electron-phonon coupling constant in the Pb nanoparticles slightly reduced compared to bulk Pb. Our result differs from other studies on Pb nanoparticle based proximity systems where weak-coupling models were found to better describe the T-c dependence. We infer that the high interface quality resulting from the ion implantation synthesis method is a determining factor for the superconducting properties. Critical field and critical current measurements support the high quality of the nanocomposite superconducting films.