The competition between superconductivity and localization raises profound questions in condensed-matter physics. In spite of decades of research, the mechanism of the superconductor–insulator transition and the nature of the insulator are not understood. We use quantum Monte Carlo simulations that treat, on an equal footing, inhomogeneous amplitude variations and phase fluctuations, a major advance over previous theories. We gain new microscopic insights and make testable predictions for local spectroscopic probes. The energy gap in the density of states survives across the transition, but coherence peaks exist only in the superconductor. A characteristic pseudogap persists above the critical disorder and critical temperature, in contrast to conventional theories. Surprisingly, the insulator has a two-particle gap scale that vanishes at the superconductor–insulator transition, despite a robust single-particle gap.
At a glance
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