Research Article

Observation of topological superconductivity on the surface of an iron-based superconductor

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Science  13 Apr 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6385, pp. 182-186
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan4596

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A topological superconductor

A promising path toward topological quantum computing involves exotic quasiparticles called the Majorana bound states (MBSs). MBSs have been observed in heterostructures that require careful nanofabrication, but the complexity of such systems makes further progress tricky. Zhang et al. identified a topological superconductor in which MBSs may be observed in a simpler way by looking into the cores of vortices induced by an external magnetic field. Using angle-resolved photoemission, the researchers found that the surface of the iron superconductor FeTe0.55Se0.45 satisfies the required conditions for topological superconductivity.

Science, this issue p. 182

Abstract

Topological superconductors are predicted to host exotic Majorana states that obey non-Abelian statistics and can be used to implement a topological quantum computer. Most of the proposed topological superconductors are realized in difficult-to-fabricate heterostructures at very low temperatures. By using high-resolution spin-resolved and angle-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy, we find that the iron-based superconductor FeTe1–xSex (x = 0.45; superconducting transition temperature Tc = 14.5 kelvin) hosts Dirac-cone–type spin-helical surface states at the Fermi level; the surface states exhibit an s-wave superconducting gap below Tc. Our study shows that the surface states of FeTe0.55Se0.45 are topologically superconducting, providing a simple and possibly high-temperature platform for realizing Majorana states.

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