STM on Superconductors

Part of the Springer Series in Surface Sciences book series (SSSUR, volume 20)


Soon after the tunneling technique was introduced by Giaever in 1960 [8.1, 2], it became clear that this would become the method of choice to study the quasiparticle density of states in superconductors. Not only could the energy gap be measured with great accuracy, but detailed predictions from the microscopic Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer (BCS) theory of superconductivity [8.3], such as the temperature dependence of the gap and depairing effects in magnetic fields, could also be verified. Tunneling studies on materials with a strong electron-phonon coupling, such as Pb, revealed direct information about the Eliashberg function α2(ω)F(ω), and subsequent modifications of the BCS theory could explain the enhanced energy gap in these strong coupling superconductors. With the prediction and observation of the possibility of pair tunneling [8.4] between two superconductors, a new field of low-temperature physics and practical applications was opened. Since then the field of superconductive tunneling spectroscopy has evolved to include many features, such as proximity effects, non-equilibrium states induced by large injection currents, inelastic tunneling spectroscopy etc. Because of the very strong non-linearity of the tunneling I-V characteristics, associated with the singularity in the density of states just above the gap, superconductive tunnel junctions have been used as microwave radiation detectors or mixers working with nearly 100% quantum efficiency. An overview of the various theoretical aspects and experimental applications of planar tunnel junctions can be found in [8.5–9].


Coulomb Blockade Andreev Reflection Tunneling Conductance Superconductive Tunnel Junction Planar Junction 
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