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A15 Nb‐Sn tunnel junction fabrication and properties

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4 Author(s)
Rudman, D.A. ; Department of Physics, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305 ; Hellman, F. ; Hammond, R.H. ; Beasley, M.R.

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We have investigated the deposition conditions necessary to produce optimized films of A15 Nb‐Sn (19–26 at. % Sn) by electron‐beam codeposition. Reliable high‐quality superconducting tunnel junctions can be made on this material by using an oxidized‐amorphous silicon overlayer as the tunneling barrier and lead as the counter‐electrode. These junctions have been used both as a tool for materials diagnosis and as a probe of the superconducting properties (critical temperature and gap) of the films. Careful control of the substrate temperature during the growth of the films has proved critical to obtain homogeneous samples. When the substrate temperature is properly stabilized, stoichiometric Nb3Sn is found to be relatively insensitive to the deposition temperature and conditions. In contrast, the properties of the off‐stoichiometry (Sn‐poor) material depend strongly on the deposition temperature. For this Sn‐poor material the ratio 2Δ/kTc at a given composition increases with increasing deposition temperature. This change appears to be due to an increase in the gap at the surface of the material (as measured by tunneling) relative to the critical temperature of the bulk. All the tunnel junctions exhibit some persistent nonidealities in their current‐voltage characteristics that are qualitatively insensitive to composition or deposition conditions. In particular, the junctions show excess conduction below the sum of the energy gaps (with onset at the counter‐electrode gap) and a broadened current rise at the sum gap. The detailed origins of these problems are not yet understood.

Published in:

Journal of Applied Physics  (Volume:55 ,  Issue: 10 )