Direct observation of Josephson vortex cores
Loiola Bessa, Vagner Henrique
Faculty of Sciences. Physics
, p. 332-337
University of Antwerp
Superconducting correlations may propagate between two superconductors separated by a tiny insulating or metallic barrier, allowing a dissipationless electric current to flow(1,2). In the presence of a magnetic field, the maximum supercurrent oscillates(3) and each oscillation corresponding to the entry of one Josephson vortex into the barrier(4). Josephson vortices are conceptual blocks of advanced quantum devices such as coherent terahertz generators(5) or qubits for quantum computing(6), in which on-demand generation and control is crucial. Here, we map superconducting correlations inside proximity Josephson junctions(7) using scanning tunnelling microscopy. Unexpectedly, we find that such Josephson vortices have real cores, in which the proximity gap is locally suppressed and the normal state recovered. By following the Josephson vortex formation and evolution we demonstrate that they originate from quantum interference of Andreev quasiparticles(8), and that the phase portraits of the two superconducting quantum condensates at edges of the junction decide their generation, shape, spatial extent and arrangement. Our observation opens a pathway towards the generation and control of Josephson vortices by applying supercurrents through the superconducting leads of the junctions, that is, by purely electrical means without any need for a magnetic field, which is a crucial step towards high-density on-chip integration of superconducting quantum devices.