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Superconducting proximity effect in monocrystalline bismuth nanowires

Abstract : The superconducting proximity effect is a phenomenon occurring at low temperatures that conveys superconducting properties to a phase coherent normal metal sample connected to superconducting electrodes. It is also a powerful tool in mesoscopic physics because it is sensitive to different transport regimes at low temperatures. In particular, we have used this effect to reveal the special electronic transport properties of single crystal Bi nanowires. In this system, the transport is dominated by surface states. Moreover, the presence of strong spin-orbit coupling in Bi at low dimensions deeply influences its electronic structure : it was predicted that (111) oriented Bi bilayer are insulating in the bulk, but conducting along the edges. This so called Quantum Spin Hall Effect (QSHE), gives rise to counterpropagating chiral edge states, that are protected against disorder as long as time reversal symmetry is present.Through the observation of the resilience of the critical current in several samples at high magnetic field, along with SQUID-like interference pattern at low magnetic field, we showed the existence of supercurrent carrying 1D edge states. The measurement of the current-phase relation using the asymetric SQUID technique on a previously characterized nanowire was realized and further demonstrates that these edge states are ballistic. These findings are consistent with tight-binding simulations that extend the known results for (111) Bi bilayer to nanowire-like system. The addition of an in-plane Zeeman field allows one to observe 0-π transitions, thereby revealing spin-splitting induced Andreev level crossings. Finally, microwave spectroscopy measurement of the dynamical susceptibility in this system are initiated, that could reliably demonstrate the property of protection against disorder according to numerical simulations.By exploring Bi at low dimensions, this thesis paves the way towards the exploration of electronic states fully protected from disorder.
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Anil Murani. Superconducting proximity effect in monocrystalline bismuth nanowires. Quantum Physics [quant-ph]. Université Paris Saclay (COmUE), 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017SACLS093⟩. ⟨tel-02057273⟩

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