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Observation of superconducting diode effect

Abstract

Nonlinear optical and electrical effects associated with a lack of spatial inversion symmetry allow direction-selective propagation and transport of quantum particles, such as photons1 and electrons2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9. The most common example of such nonreciprocal phenomena is a semiconductor diode with a p–n junction, with a low resistance in one direction and a high resistance in the other. Although the diode effect forms the basis of numerous electronic components, such as rectifiers, alternating–direct-current converters and photodetectors, it introduces an inevitable energy loss due to the finite resistance. Therefore, a worthwhile goal is to realize a superconducting diode that has zero resistance in only one direction. Here we demonstrate a magnetically controllable superconducting diode in an artificial superlattice [Nb/V/Ta]n without a centre of inversion. The nonreciprocal resistance versus current curve at the superconducting-to-normal transition was clearly observed by a direct-current measurement, and the difference of the critical current is considered to be related to the magnetochiral anisotropy caused by breaking of the spatial-inversion and time-reversal symmetries10,11,12,13. Owing to the nonreciprocal critical current, the [Nb/V/Ta]n superlattice exhibits zero resistance in only one direction. This superconducting diode effect enables phase-coherent and direction-selective charge transport, paving the way for the construction of non-dissipative electronic circuits.

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Fig. 1: Demonstration of the magnetically controllable superconducting diode.
Fig. 2: Asymmetric RI curves and the nonreciprocal critical currents in the [Nb/V/Ta]n superlattice.
Fig. 3: Nonreciprocal charge transport during the superconducting transition in the [Nb/V/Ta]n superlattice.
Fig. 4: Magnetochiral anisotropy of the [Nb/V/Ta]n superlattice.

Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon request.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Y. Kasahara, Y. Matsuda and K. Ishida for discussions about the superconducting properties of the [Nb/V/Ta]n superlattice. This work was supported partly by JSPS KAKENHI grants (15H05702, 15H05884, 15H05745, 17H04924, 18K19021, 18H04225, 18H01178, 18H05227, 18H01815, 19K21972 and 26103002), by the Cooperative Research Project Program of the Research Institute of Electrical Communication, Tohoku University, and by the Collaborative Research Program of the Institute for Chemical Research, Kyoto University.

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Contributions

T.O. supervised the study. F.A. and Y.M. deposited the films and fabricated them into the devices. F.A. designed the transport measurement setup with help from T.L. and collected the data. T.A. reproduced the experimental results of the superconducting diode effect in another cryogenic equipment. J.I. and Y.Y. calculated the band structure and helped with the analysis of the experimental results. All authors contributed to the interpretation of the results and to the writing of the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Teruo Ono.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Extended data figures and tables

Extended Data Fig. 1 Band structure of a slab of [Nb/V/Ta]5.

a, Band structure of a slab [Nb/V/Ta]5 along the high-symmetry line. b, Low-energy electron band near the M point.

Extended Data Fig. 2 The nonreciprocal component of the critical current ΔIc as a function of magnetic field in a 120-nm-thick Nb film.

The inset shows the temperature dependence of the d.c. sheet resistance.

Extended Data Fig. 3 First-harmonic sheet resistances Rω of the [Nb/V/Ta]n superlattice as a function of magnetic field in the vicinity of Tc.

The temperature dependence of the critical field Bc2 is shown in the inset.

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Ando, F., Miyasaka, Y., Li, T. et al. Observation of superconducting diode effect. Nature 584, 373–376 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2590-4

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