Quasiparticle tunneling through rare earth trihydroxide barriers

F. E. Stageberg, R. Cantor, A. M. Goldman, G. B. Arnold

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Symmetric tunneling junctions with 4000-Å-thick Pb electrodes and polycrystalline insulating barriers of Lu(OH)3, Er(OH)3, and Ho(OH)3 have been fabricated. In bulk, these three rare earth trihydroxides are nonmagnetic, antiferromagnetic (TN<1.1 K), and ferromagnetic (Tc=2.54 K), respectively. Tunneling resistances ranged from 600 to greater than 40,000 Ω with a junction area of 6.25×10-2 cm2. Single-particle tunneling characteristics of these junctions were always broadened relative to the characteristics of Pb-PbO-Pb junctions, although the ratio of the zero-bias tunneling resistance to the normal tunneling resistance in some instances was of the order of 1000. A threefold splitting of the conductance peak at the gap was observed only in junctions with Ho(OH)3 barriers. The gap peak of junctions with Er(OH)3 barriers was broadened significantly relative to that of junctions with Lu(OH)3 barriers. From measurements of the temperature and magnetic field dependences of the tunneling conductance it is argued that the splitting in junctions with Ho(OH)3 barriers is consistent with the existence of a peak in the electronic density of states at an energy below that of the gap of each of the electrodes. This peak is believed to be the signature of a bound state near the barrier where the pair potential is depressed by virtue of the exchange coupling between the spins of the superconducting electrons and the localized spins of the barrier. Qualitative interpretations of the data support the view that the observed structure in Ho(OH)3 barrier junctions is neither a consequence of intrinsic gap anisotropy in Pb nor of inelastic magnon-assisted tunnelling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-456
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Low Temperature Physics
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Sep 1985
Externally publishedYes


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