## Abstract

The discovery of novel high-T_{c} superconductivity in MgB_{2} (T_{c} = 39.5 K) andLi0.48(THF)yHfNCl (T_{c} = 25.5 K) initiated substantial progress in the field ofsuperconductivity physics and its applications despite the fact that competing high-Tccuprates remain the world leaders in almost all practically important superconductingparameters. This article describes electron tunneling and point-contact experimentalstudies of the indicated two materials and related substances, being crucial to elucidatethe character of the quasiparticle energy spectrum both in superconducting and normalstate. The account is based mostly on our own experiments, although works carried out inother laboratories are taken into account as well. We studied superconducting gap structures by means of break-junction tunnelingspectroscopy (BJTS), scanning tunneling spectroscopy (STS) and point-contactspectroscopy (PCS).In the case of MgB_{2}, tunnel conductance G(V) = dI/dV(V) reveals multiple-gapfeatures. Here I is the quasiparticle tunnel current and V is the bias voltage. The two-gapmodel including the proximity effect (the correlated two-gap model) was used to describethe observed multiple-gap features in BJTS and STS. Three specific gap values can beidentified as follows: Δ_{S} = 2 - 2.5, Δ_{M} = 4.5 - 7.5 and Δ_{L} = 10 - 12 meV. The observedvalues 2Δ_{L}(4.2 K)/k_{B}T_{c} > 5 - 6 constitute the largest known values of thesuperconducting gap to T_{c} ratio except for those appropriate to copper oxides and certainorganic materials. Here k_{B} is the Boltzmann constant. On the other hand, ratios of thesmall gaps Δ_{S} to corresponding T_{c}'s, 2Δ_{S}(4.2 K)/k_{B}T_{c}, fall into the range 1.2 - 1.5, whichis considerably below the Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer (BCS) value 2Δ(4.2 K)/k_{B}T_{c} ≈ 3.5inherent to s-wave superconductors. The extrapolated highest gap-closing field B_{c} for thelargest gap agrees with the upper-critical field, thereby indicating that this gap ispredominant in MgB_{2}. Point-contact conductance G(V) also demonstrates multiple-gapstructures. Peak positions in the second derivative conductance of PCS are in areasonable agreement with the phonon spectrum frequencies revealed by the inelasticneutron scattering measurements. The high-energy boron vibration modes (̃ 75 meV) aresuggested to play the important role in the overall electron-phonon interaction in MgB_{2}. The BJTS data of other AlB_{2} type superconductors show the strong-coupling-size valuesof the ratio 2Δ(0)/k_{B}T_{c}, specifically, 4.2 - 4.5 for NbB_{2} and 4.2 - 4.6 for CaAlSi. Tunneling measurements have been carried out on layered nitride superconductors ofthe β(SmSI)-type Li_{0.48}(THF)_{x}HfNCl (THF;C_{4}H_{8}O) (T_{c} ≈ 25.5 K), HfNCl_{0.7} (T_{c} ≈ 23-24K) and ZrNCl_{0.7} (T_{c} ≈ 14 K). BJTS reveals Bardeen - Cooper - Schrieffer (BCS) - likegap structures with typical gap values of 2Δ(4.2 K) = 11-12 meV for Li_{0.48}(THF)_{x}HfNClwith the highest T_{c} ≈ 25.5 K. Our measurements revealed multiple gaps and dip-humpstructures, the largest gap 2Δ (4.2 K) = 17 - 20 meV closing at T_{c}. It comes about that thehighest obtained gap ratio 2Δ/k_{B}T_{c} ̃ 8 substantially exceeds the BCS weak-couplinglimiting values: ≈ 3.5 and ≈ 4.3 for s-wave and d-wave order parameter symmetry,respectively. For ZrNCl_{0.7}, two gap ratios 2Δ/k_{B}T_{c} = 6 - 8 and 2Δ/k_{B}T_{c} = 3 - 4 followfrom the BJTS data. Such huge values of 2Δ/k_{B}T_{c} are rather unusual for conventionalsuperconductors.

Original language | English |
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Title of host publication | Superconductivity |

Subtitle of host publication | Theory, Materials and Applications |

Publisher | Nova Science Publishers, Inc. |

Pages | 1-110 |

Number of pages | 110 |

ISBN (Print) | 9781613248430 |

Publication status | Published - Mar 2012 |

Externally published | Yes |

## ASJC Scopus subject areas

- Physics and Astronomy(all)

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