Nanowire Josephson junctions in superconducting circuits

A. Bargerbos

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

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The Josephson effect is a quintessential topic of condensed matter physics. It has stimulated decades of fundamental research, leading to a plethora of applications from metrology to outer space. In addition, it is set to play a crucial role in the development of quantum computers, forming the dissipationless non-linear inductance that lies at the core of superconducting qubits.

While they are traditionally realized using oxide based tunnel barriers, in this thesis we construct Josephson junctions from non-insulating materials such as semiconducting nanowires and quantum dots. We investigate how their highly nontrivial interplay with superconductivity can lead to new effects, both of fundamental interest and of relevance for quantum applications. To study these effects we make use the exhaustive toolbox available for superconducting circuits, allowing us to probe the junction behavior to beyond what is possible with conventional transport techniques.

The first experimental chapter of this thesis examines the behaviour of a transmon that hosts a highly transparent semiconducting weak-link as the Josephson junction. In this system we find spectroscopic evidence for the predicted vanishing of Coulomb effects in open superconducting islands, in accordance with theoretical predictions from 1999.

In the second experiment we deterministically place a quantum dot inside the junction of a transmon circuit. We then demonstrate that by using microwave spectroscopy we are able to accurately probe the energy-phase relationship of the Josephson junction over a vast regime of parameter space. This reveals the remnants of a quantum phase transition, and allows us to probe the time dynamics of the junction parity.

We subsequently use the same type of device to reveal the predicted spin-splitting of the Andreev bound states in a quantum dot with superconducting leads, as brought about by the spin-orbit interaction. When combined with a magnetic field, this is shown to result in the anomalous Josephson effect. Furthermore, we demonstrate that transitions between the spin-split quantum dot states can be directly driven with microwaves.

This motivated the investigation of a novel superconducting spin qubit, performed in the fourth experiment. Here we demonstrate rapid, all-electric qubit manipulation in addition to detailed coherence characterization. We ultimately show signatures of strong coherent coupling between the superconducting spin qubit and the transmon into which it is embedded, setting the stage for future research of this nascent qubit platform.

In the fifth and final experiment, we utilize a different approach compared to the preceding chapters. While we once-more construct transmons based on semiconducting weak-links, we now do so to leverage the intrinsic magnetic field resilience of semiconducting nanowires. This allows us to use a single device to study the mitigation of phonon-induced quasiparticle losses by trapping the phonons using both super and normal-state conductors.

This thesis concludes by discussing several ideas and proposals that aim to leverage the alternative Josephson junctions studied in this thesis. Combined with the results of the preceding chapters, this shows that hybrid superconducting circuits can be used to obtain deep insights into the fundamental physics governing their constituent junctions, and opens avenues towards building better qubits.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Delft University of Technology
  • Wimmer, M.T., Supervisor
  • Andersen, C.K., Advisor
Award date14 Apr 2023
Print ISBNs978-90-8593-556-8
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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