Suppression of the Berezinskii-Kosterlitz-Thouless transition in 2D superconductors by macroscopic quantum tunneling

Yen Hsiang Lin, J. Nelson, A. M. Goldman

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Abstract

The evolution with thickness of the properties of quench-deposited homogeneous amorphous bismuth (a-Bi) thin films with a 14.67 Å amorphous antimony (a-Sb) underlayer has been studied. In contrast with the results of previous investigations on similar systems the transition between the insulating and superconducting regimes is not direct, but involves an intervening metallic regime over a range of thicknesses. For these metallic films the temperature dependencies of the resistances at temperatures above the metallic regime can be described by the Halperin-Nelson form suggesting the occurrence of a Berezinskii-Kosterlitz-Thouless (BKT) transition at lower temperatures. However, this transition never occurs as curves of R(T) flatten out as temperature is reduced. We suggest that this phenomenon is evidence of a crossover between a classical regime of thermal vortex unbinding at high temperatures and a regime of macroscopic quantum tunneling at low temperatures. The latter prevents the BKT transition from occurring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number017002
JournalPhysical review letters
Volume109
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 6 2012

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