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Granular insulator–superconductor transition in ultrathin Bi films

Sambandamurthy, G and Gupta, Das K and Chandrasekhar, N (2001) Granular insulator–superconductor transition in ultrathin Bi films. In: Solid State Communications, 118 (8). pp. 431-436.

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We have studied the insulator–superconductor transition (IST) by tuning the thickness in quench-condensed Bi films. The resistive transitions of the superconducting films are smooth and can be considered to represent homogeneous films. The observation of an IST very close to the quantum resistance for pairs, $R^N\Boxb\sim h/4e^2$ on several substrates supports this idea. The relevant length scales here are the localization length, and the coherence length. However, at the transition, the localization length is much higher than the superconducting coherence length, contrary to expectation for a homogeneous transition. This suggests the invalidity of a purely fermionic model for the transition. Furthermore, the current–voltage characteristics of the superconducting films are hysteretic, and show the films to be granular. The relevant energy scales here are the Josephson coupling energy and the charging energy. However, Josephson coupling energies $(E_J)$ and the charging energies $(E_c)$ at the IST, are found to obey the relation $E_J<E_c$. This is again contrary to expectation, for the IST in a granular or inhomogeneous, system. Hence, a purely bosonic picture of the transition is also inconsistent with our observations. We conclude that the IST observed in our experiments may be either an intermediate case between the fermionic and bosonic mechanisms, or in a regime of charge and vortex dynamics for which a quantitative analysis has not yet been done.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publication: Solid State Communications
Publisher: Elsevier
Additional Information: Copyright of this article belongs to Elsevier.
Keywords: A. Superconductivity;D. Phase transitions;E. Ultrathin films
Department/Centre: Division of Physical & Mathematical Sciences > Physics
Date Deposited: 25 Aug 2008
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2010 04:37
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/10618

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