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Epitaxial Pb on InAs nanowires for quantum devices


Semiconductor–superconductor hybrids are widely used to realize complex quantum phenomena, such as topological superconductivity and spins coupled to Cooper pairs. Accessing new, exotic regimes at high magnetic fields and increasing operating temperatures beyond the state-of-the-art requires new, epitaxially matched semiconductor–superconductor materials. One challenge is the generation of favourable conditions for heterostructural formation between materials with the desired properties. Here we harness an increased knowledge of metal-on-semiconductor growth to develop InAs nanowires with epitaxially matched, single-crystal, atomically flat Pb films with no axial grain boundaries. These highly ordered heterostructures have a critical temperature of 7 K and a superconducting gap of 1.25 meV, which remains hard at 8.5 T, and therefore they offer a parameter space more than twice as large as those of alternative semiconductor–superconductor hybrids. Additionally, InAs/Pb island devices exhibit magnetic field-driven transitions from a Cooper pair to single-electron charging, a prerequisite for use in topological quantum computation. Semiconductor–Pb hybrids potentially enable access to entirely new regimes for a number of different quantum systems.

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Fig. 1: InAs/Pb bicrystal interfacial match.
Fig. 2: Pb-thickness-dependent morphology.
Fig. 3: Hybrid InAs/Pb tunnel spectroscopy.
Fig. 4: Hybrid InAs/Pb island.

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Full data sets for all figures, TEM images, transport data, electronic logbooks and other data that support the findings of this study are available online at


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This work was funded by the Danish National Research Foundation (J.E.S., K.G.-R. and J.N.), European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 823717 (ESTEEM3) (L.Z. and E.O.), FETOpen grant no. 828948 (AndQC) (T.K., M.M. and J.N.) and QuantERA project no. 127900 (SuperTOP) (K.G.-R. and J.N.), Villum Foundation project no. 25310 (K.G.-R.), Innovation Fund Denmark’s Quantum Innovation Center Qubiz (D.C. and J.N.), University of Copenhagen (T.K.) and the Carlsberg Foundation (J.N.). J.d.B. acknowledges support by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO/OCW), as part of the Frontiers of Nanoscience program. We thank M. Bjergfelt, M. Burello, A. Geresdi, T.S. Jespersen, J. Paaske, J.C. Estrada Saldaña and S. Vaitiekenas for useful discussions. C. B. Sørensen and S. Upadhyay are gratefully acknowledged for technical assistance and support.

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Authors and Affiliations



T.K., M.M., D.O. and J.N. developed the materials growth and analysis. T.K., M.M., L.Z., E.J. and E.O. performed the TEM imaging. T.K., M.M., D.O. and D.J.C. developed the Pb device processing. T.K., D.O., D.J.C., J.E.S., J.d.B., K.G.-R. and J.N. carried out transport measurements. J.N. supervised the project. All authors contributed to analysing and interpreting the data and to writing the manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Thomas Kanne or Jesper Nygård.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Peer review informationNature Nanotechnology thanks Javad Shabani and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Extended data

Extended Data Fig. 1 Tunnel spectroscopy of superconducting gap for additional devices.

a, SEM micrograph of a NS device used for tunnel spectroscopy. Backgate voltage, VBG, and/or sidegate voltage, VSG, was used to adjust the chemical potential along the entire nanowire or the exposed InAs junction, respectively. b, Averaged conductance, Gavg, over VSG vs VSD for the data in c. Coulomb-blockade-related resonances for |VSD |> Δ/e are averaged out and superconducting coherence peaks are visible. cj, Bias spectroscopy of 8 different NS devices as function of VSG or VBG. The conductance lines in the gap of panels f (VBG ~ 9 V) and g (VSG ~ 5.7 V) may be related to a parallel channel, while the conductance features in for example panels h (see also high resolution zoom in k) and j (VBG ~ − 25 V) can be attributed to bound states. For further discussion, see Supplementary Section 4.1.

Extended Data Fig. 2 Magnetic field evolution of the superconducting gap for additional devices.

Conductance, g, vs VSD and B for: a, the same device as in main text Fig. 3 with different gate voltage settings and be separate devices with varying Pb thicknesses. In a,c,d the superconducting gap remains hard until the highest measurable B was reached, while in b discrete bound states converge towards VSD = 0. The critical field is reduced for devices with thicker films. fj, Normalised conductance g/gN (log-scale) vs VSD at zero and finite field for each device, showing that a strong suppression of zero bias conductance persists at finite field. For further discussion, see Supplementary Section 4.1.

Extended Data Fig. 3 InAs/Pb island device in perpendicular magnetic field.

a, False-colored SEM micrograph of an InAs/Pb island device. Yellow and pink, Ti/Au contacts and gates, respectively; Blue, Pb. Perpendicular magnetic field direction is indicated by B. b, Conductance as a function of VG and B showing evenly spaced Coulomb resonances that split abruptly at B ~ 0.2 T. Inset shows the same data on a logarithmic scale to highlight the split. c, Differential conductance at zero field as a function of VG and VSD showing evenly 2e-spaced Coulomb diamonds with asymmetric lead coupling. d, Same Coulomb diamonds shown in (c) recorded at B = 0.4, 0.9 and 2 T. For further discussion, see Supplementary Section 4.2.2.

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Kanne, T., Marnauza, M., Olsteins, D. et al. Epitaxial Pb on InAs nanowires for quantum devices. Nat. Nanotechnol. 16, 776–781 (2021).

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