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Observation of individual macroscopic quantum tunneling events in superconducting nanowires

In quasi-one-dimensional nanowires, superconductivity is destroyed by phase slip events. Phase slips can be caused by thermal activation (TAPS) over a free energy barrier or quantum tunneling through the barrier (QPS). Quantum phase slip is an example of macroscopic quantum tunneling. Here, we report the observation of QPS experimentally separated from interference of TAPS in aluminum nanowires 1 . This separation between the low temperature QPS and the high temperature TAPS regions is made possible by a phase slip free superconducting region stabilized by the dissipative environment viz. the normal electrodes 2,3,4 . Individual QPSs are detected by means of a single-shot voltage measurement protocol, in which they appear as stochastic switching events from the superconducting to the normal state.

  1. Meenakshi Singh and M.H.W. Chan, Physical Review B 88, 06451 (2013)
  2. M. Tian et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 95, 076802 ( 2005)
  3. A. Caldeira and A. J. Leggett, Annals of Physics 149, 374-456 (1983);
  4. H. Fu, A Seidel, J. Clarke and D.H. Lee, Phys. Rev. Lett.96. 157005 (2006)