Graphene1 is a sturdy and chemically inert material exhibiting an exposed two-dimensional electron gas of high mobility. These combined properties enable the design of graphene composites, based either on covalent2 or non-covalent3 coupling of adsorbates, or on stacked and multilayered heterostructures4. These systems have shown tunable electronic properties such as bandgap engineering3, reversible metal–insulating transition2, 4 or supramolecular spintronics5. Tunable superconductivity is expected as well6, but experimental realization is lacking. Here, we show experiments based on metal–graphene hybrid composites, enabling the tunable proximity coupling of an array of superconducting nanoparticles of tin onto a macroscopic graphene sheet. This material allows full electrical control of the superconductivity down to a strongly insulating state at low temperature. The observed gate control of superconductivity results from the combination of a proximity-induced superconductivity generated by the metallic nanoparticle array with the two-dimensional and tunable metallicity of graphene. The resulting hybrid material behaves, as a whole, like a granular superconductor showing universal transition threshold and localization of Cooper pairs in the insulating phase. This experiment sheds light on the emergence of superconductivity in inhomogeneous superconductors, and more generally, it demonstrates the potential of graphene as a versatile building block for the realization of superconducting materials.
At a glance
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