Scanning tunneling spectroscopy of the superconducting proximity effect

When: May 30, 16:00

Where: Skoltech, MR-408 (TROC-3, Blue building)

 CPQM seminar:

Scanning tunneling spectroscopy of the superconducting proximity effect

 Christophe Brun

Institut des Nanosciences de Paris, Sorbonne Université and CNRS

 Paris, France 


Superconducting correlations can propagate at low temperature in a normal metal at an S-N interface when the interface transparency is high enough [1. In the case of diffusive metals, the Usadel theory is a very powerful theoretical framework to describe proximity effect [2]. In particular when the length of the N part is smaller than the electronic phase coherence length, a minigap exists in N which acquire genuine superconducting properties. On the other hand, if the length of the N part is infinite there is no minigap but superconducting correlations affect the local density-of-states in an energy-dependent manner. We have studied by scanning tunneling microscopy/spectroscopy in ultrahigh vacuum what happens to such finite [3] and infinite [4] S-N junction using both lateral and vertical geometries. In the finite S-N junction in perpendicular magnetic field, we showed that it exhibits superconducting proximity vortices [4]. The local density-of-states probed by STS is in very good agreement with self-consistent 3D Usadel equations modeling our S-N geometry. We also studied a lateral network of S-N-S Josephson junctions, built in situ using self-organized Pb islands grown on Si(111). Using perpendicular magnetic field to create phase gradients inside each S island we could study and map in real space the cores of Josephson vortices existing in the diffusive N parts [5]. Finally we also could study locally the proximity effect between two superconductors of different energy gap values, one of them being a Pb atomic monolayer, the second one being a thin Pb island grown on the Pb monolayer [6].


  1. Pannetier and H. Courtois, J. Low Temp. Phys. 118, 599 (2000)
  2. Belzig et al., Superlattices Microstruct. 25, 1251 (1999)
  3. Serrier-Garcia et al. Phys. Rev. Lett. 110, 157003 (2013)
  4. Stoliarov et al Nature Commun. 10.1038/s41467-018-04582-1
  5. Roditchev et al. Nature Phys. 11, 332 (2015)
  6. Cherkez et al. Phys. Rev. X 4, 011033 (2014)


Christophe Brun got his PhD in Orsay University (France) for Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM) study of charge density waves in quasi-1D conductors. Then Christophe joined Prof. Schneider’s group at EPFL (Switzerland), where he spent 4 years working on characterization of metallic and superconducting nanostructures with STM/STS and surface science related techniques. Since 2011 he is a CNRS researcher at Institut des Nanosciences de Paris, in Sorbonne University. Christophe’s research interests include disordered superconducting thin films and the problem of the superconductor-insulator transition, superconductivity in 2D (weak disorder effects, effect of spin-orbit coupling), superconducting proximity effect, interaction between local magnetic impurities and topological superconductivity, correlated electronic systems and unconventional superconductivity.