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Chiral Majorana fermion modes in a quantum anomalous Hall insulator–superconductor structure

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Science  21 Jul 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6348, pp. 294-299
DOI: 10.1126/science.aag2792

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A propagating Majorana mode

Although Majorana fermions remain elusive as elementary particles, their solid-state analogs have been observed in hybrid semiconductor-superconductor nanowires. In a nanowire setting, the Majorana states are localized at the ends of the wire. He et al. built a two-dimensional heterostructure in which a one-dimensional Majorana mode is predicted to run along the sample edge (see the Perspective by Pribiag). The heterostructure consisted of a quantum anomalous Hall insulator (QAHI) bar contacted by a superconductor. The authors used an external magnetic field as a “knob” to tune into a regime where a Majorana mode was propagating along the edge of the QAHI bar covered by the superconductor. A signature of this propagation—half-quantized conductance—was then observed in transport experiments.

Science, this issue p. 294; see also p. 252

Abstract

Majorana fermion is a hypothetical particle that is its own antiparticle. We report transport measurements that suggest the existence of one-dimensional chiral Majorana fermion modes in the hybrid system of a quantum anomalous Hall insulator thin film coupled with a superconductor. As the external magnetic field is swept, half-integer quantized conductance plateaus are observed at the locations of magnetization reversals, giving a distinct signature of the Majorana fermion modes. This transport signature is reproducible over many magnetic field sweeps and appears at different temperatures. This finding may open up an avenue to control Majorana fermions for implementing robust topological quantum computing.

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