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Observation of half-quantum flux in the unconventional superconductor β-Bi2Pd

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Science  11 Oct 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6462, pp. 238-241
DOI: 10.1126/science.aau6539

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Unconventional oscillations

At sufficiently low temperatures, superconductors expel an applied magnetic field. However, if the topology of the superconductor is nontrivial—for example, if there is a hole in the sample—there can be a nonzero magnetic flux inside the hole. This flux can only take certain discrete values, and the superconducting critical temperature has maxima at the corresponding values of the magnetic field. Li et al. studied these so-called Little-Parks oscillations in superconducting rings made out of polycrystalline thin films of β-Bi2Pd. They found that the phase of the oscillations was shifted by π compared with oscillations observed in most superconductors, as predicted for certain unconventional pairing symmetries.

Science, this issue p. 238

Abstract

Magnetic flux quantization is one of the defining properties of a superconductor. We report the observation of half-integer magnetic flux quantization in mesoscopic rings of superconducting β-Bi2Pd thin films. The half-quantum fluxoid manifests itself as a π phase shift in the quantum oscillation of the superconducting critical temperature. This result verifies unconventional superconductivity of β-Bi2Pd and is consistent with a spin-triplet pairing symmetry. Our findings may have implications for flux quantum bits in the context of quantum computing.

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