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Superconductivity in doped cubic silicon

Naturevolume 444pages465468 (2006) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Although the local resistivity of semiconducting silicon in its standard crystalline form can be changed by many orders of magnitude by doping with elements, superconductivity has so far never been achieved. Hybrid devices combining silicon’s semiconducting properties and superconductivity have therefore remained largely underdeveloped. Here we report that superconductivity can be induced when boron is locally introduced into silicon at concentrations above its equilibrium solubility. For sufficiently high boron doping (typically 100 p.p.m.) silicon becomes metallic1. We find that at a higher boron concentration of several per cent, achieved by gas immersion laser doping, silicon becomes superconducting. Electrical resistivity and magnetic susceptibility measurements show that boron-doped silicon (Si:B) made in this way is a superconductor below a transition temperature Tc ≈ 0.35 K, with a critical field of about 0.4 T. Ab initio calculations, corroborated by Raman measurements, strongly suggest that doping is substitutional. The calculated electron–phonon coupling strength is found to be consistent with a conventional phonon-mediated coupling mechanism2. Our findings will facilitate the fabrication of new silicon-based superconducting nanostructures and mesoscopic devices with high-quality interfaces.

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Acknowledgements

The authors acknowledge J. Marcus, M. Sanquer and X. Jehl for access to their cryostats, as well as J. Pernot for discussions. Calculations were performed at the CNRS national supercomputing centre (IDRIS). Partial funding by the French ANR-05-BLAN programme is acknowledged. Author Contributions The samples were prepared by D.D. and J.B., and the calculations performed by E.Bo. and X.B. All other authors contributed to the physical characterization of the samples.

Author information

Author notes

    • A. Huxley

    Present address: School of Physics, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH9 3JZ, UK

  1. E. Bustarret and C. Marcenat: These authors contributed equally to this work.

Affiliations

  1. Laboratoire d’Etudes des Propriétés Electroniques des Solides

    • E. Bustarret
    • , P. Achatz
    •  & J. Kačmarčik
  2. Laboratoire de Cristallographie, CNRS, BP166, 38042, Grenoble, France

    • L. Ortéga
  3. Département de la Recherche Fondamentale sur la Matière Condensée, SPSMS, CEA Grenoble, 17 rue des Martyrs, 38054, Grenoble, France

    • C. Marcenat
    • , P. Achatz
    • , F. Lévy
    •  & A. Huxley
  4. Institute of Experimental Physics, Slovak Academy of Sciences, SK-04001, Košice, Slovakia

    • J. Kačmarčik
  5. Laboratoire de Physique de la Matière Condensée et Nanostructures, Université Lyon I and CNRS, Domaine scientifique de la Doua, 69622, Villeurbanne, France

    • E. Bourgeois
    •  & X. Blase
  6. Institut d’Electronique Fondamentale, Université Paris Sud and CNRS, Bât. 220, 91405, Orsay, France

    • D. Débarre
    •  & J. Boulmer

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Competing interests

Reprints and permissions information is available at www.nature.com/reprints. The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to E. Bustarret or C. Marcenat.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nature05340

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