Tunneling spectroscopy of Novel Layered superconductors: MgB2, Li0.48(THF)XHfNCl and related substances

Tomoaki Takasaki, Toshikazu Ekino, Alexander M. Gabovich, Akira Sugimoto, Shoji Yamanaka, Jun Akimitsu

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The discovery of novel high-Tc superconductivity in MgB2 (Tc = 39.5 K) andLi0.48(THF)yHfNCl (Tc = 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 MgB2, 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: ΔS = 2 - 2.5, ΔM = 4.5 - 7.5 and ΔL = 10 - 12 meV. The observedvalues 2ΔL(4.2 K)/kBTc > 5 - 6 constitute the largest known values of thesuperconducting gap to Tc ratio except for those appropriate to copper oxides and certainorganic materials. Here kB is the Boltzmann constant. On the other hand, ratios of thesmall gaps ΔS to corresponding Tc's, 2ΔS(4.2 K)/kBTc, fall into the range 1.2 - 1.5, whichis considerably below the Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer (BCS) value 2Δ(4.2 K)/kBTc ≈ 3.5inherent to s-wave superconductors. The extrapolated highest gap-closing field Bc for thelargest gap agrees with the upper-critical field, thereby indicating that this gap ispredominant in MgB2. 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 MgB2. The BJTS data of other AlB2 type superconductors show the strong-coupling-size valuesof the ratio 2Δ(0)/kBTc, specifically, 4.2 - 4.5 for NbB2 and 4.2 - 4.6 for CaAlSi. Tunneling measurements have been carried out on layered nitride superconductors ofthe β(SmSI)-type Li0.48(THF)xHfNCl (THF;C4H8O) (Tc ≈ 25.5 K), HfNCl0.7 (Tc ≈ 23-24K) and ZrNCl0.7 (Tc ≈ 14 K). BJTS reveals Bardeen - Cooper - Schrieffer (BCS) - likegap structures with typical gap values of 2Δ(4.2 K) = 11-12 meV for Li0.48(THF)xHfNClwith the highest Tc ≈ 25.5 K. Our measurements revealed multiple gaps and dip-humpstructures, the largest gap 2Δ (4.2 K) = 17 - 20 meV closing at Tc. It comes about that thehighest obtained gap ratio 2Δ/kBTc ̃ 8 substantially exceeds the BCS weak-couplinglimiting values: ≈ 3.5 and ≈ 4.3 for s-wave and d-wave order parameter symmetry,respectively. For ZrNCl0.7, two gap ratios 2Δ/kBTc = 6 - 8 and 2Δ/kBTc = 3 - 4 followfrom the BJTS data. Such huge values of 2Δ/kBTc are rather unusual for conventionalsuperconductors.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSuperconductivity
Subtitle of host publicationTheory, Materials and Applications
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages110
ISBN (Print)9781613248430
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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    Takasaki, T., Ekino, T., Gabovich, A. M., Sugimoto, A., Yamanaka, S., & Akimitsu, J. (2012). Tunneling spectroscopy of Novel Layered superconductors: MgB2, Li0.48(THF)XHfNCl and related substances. In Superconductivity: Theory, Materials and Applications (pp. 1-110). Nova Science Publishers, Inc..