Majorana zero modes in superconductor–semiconductor heterostructures

Abstract

Realizing topological superconductivity and Majorana zero modes in the laboratory is a major goal in condensed-matter physics. In this Review, we survey the current status of this rapidly developing field, focusing on proposals for the realization of topological superconductivity in semiconductor–superconductor heterostructures. We examine materials science progress in growing InAs and InSb semiconductor nanowires and characterizing these systems. We then discuss the observation of robust signatures of Majorana zero modes in recent experiments, paying particular attention to zero-bias tunnelling conduction measurements and Coulomb blockade experiments. We also outline several next-generation experiments probing exotic properties of Majorana zero modes, including fusion rules and non-Abelian exchange statistics. Finally, we discuss prospects for implementing Majorana-based topological quantum computation.

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Fig. 1: Energy spectrum and topological phase diagram of a semiconductor nanowire proximity-coupled to a superconductor.
Fig. 2: Growth of bottom-up nanowires.
Fig. 3: High-symmetry epitaxial Al/InAs interfaces.
Fig. 4: Characterization of superconductor–semiconductor heterostructures.
Fig. 5: Signatures of Majorana zero modes.
Fig. 6: Tunnelling conductance in InSb/Al hybrid structures.
Fig. 7: Coulomb blockade experiment with proximitized nanowires.
Fig. 8: Proposed experiments to probe key properties of topological superconductors for quantum computing applications.

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Acknowledgements

Financial support from The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter, European Research Council (ERC), Danish National Research Foundation, The European Research Council (ERC) under the grant agreement No. 716655 (HEMs-DAM), Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (CRC 183), the Israel Science Foundation (ISF), the Binational Science Foundation (BSF) and the European Research Council under the European Community's Seventh Framework Program (FP7/2007-2013)/ERC grant agreement No. 340210 and Microsoft Corporation is acknowledged. The authors thank B. van Heck, T. Karzig, M. Kjærgaard, C. Knapp, F. Nichele, E. Rossi and S. Vishveshwara for their help with the manuscript preparation. The authors acknowledge all their collaborators on the subject of topological superconductivity.

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Lutchyn, R., Bakkers, E.P.A.M., Kouwenhoven, L.P. et al. Majorana zero modes in superconductor–semiconductor heterostructures. Nat Rev Mater 3, 52–68 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41578-018-0003-1

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