Parity effect and single-electron injection for Josephson junction chains deep in the insulating state

Cedergren, K. and Kafanov, Sergey and Smirr, J. -L. and Cole, J. H. and Duty, T. (2015) Parity effect and single-electron injection for Josephson junction chains deep in the insulating state. Physical review B, 92 (10). ISSN 1098-0121

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We have made a systematic investigation of charge transport in one-dimensional chains of Josephson junctions where the characteristic Josephson energy is much less than the single-junction Cooper-pair charging energy, EJ-ECP. Such chains are deep in the insulating state, where superconducting phase coherence across the chain is absent, and a voltage threshold for conduction is observed at the lowest temperatures. We find that Cooper-pair tunneling in such chains is completely suppressed. Instead, charge transport is dominated by tunneling of single electrons, which is very sensitive to the presence of BCS quasiparticles on the superconducting islands of the chain. Consequently, we observe a strong parity effect, where the threshold voltage vanishes sharply at a characteristic parity temperature T∗, which is significantly lower than the critical temperature Tc. A measurable and thermally activated zero-bias conductance appears above T∗, with an activation energy equal to the superconducting gap, confirming the role of thermally excited quasiparticles. Conduction below T∗ and above the voltage threshold occurs via injection of single electrons/holes into the Cooper-pair insulator, forming a nonequilibrium steady state with a significantly enhanced effective temperature. Our results explicitly show that single-electron transport dominates deep in the insulating state of Josephson junction arrays. This conduction process has mostly been ignored in previous studies of both superconducting junction arrays and granular superconducting films below the superconductor-insulator quantum phase transition.

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Journal Article
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Physical review B
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27 Feb 2017 13:38
Last Modified:
01 Jul 2020 03:32