The lateral proximity effect and long-range energy-gap gradients in Ta/Al and Nb/Al Josephson junctions

R. den Hartog, Alexandre Avraamovitch Golubov, D. Martin, P. Verhoeve, P.A. Poelaert, A. Peacock, M. Krumrey

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    We present two independent experiments, each of which suggests that the local energy gap in Ta (and Nb) has a lateral spatial variation on a scale of several μm. The first experiment is a series of current–voltage characterizations of Nb/Al/AlOx and Ta/Al/AlOx Josephson junctions, which reveals a dependence of the measured energy gap on the size of the junction. This implies a geometrical dependence of the energy gap. An extended version of the current theory of the proximity effect could explain this phenomenon when a lateral coherence length is introduced, which is of the order of the bulk coherence length of the materials. The second experiment is a series of coincidence measurements of photon absorption events in a Ta absorber between two Ta/Al junctions. There is a clear distinction in the pulse-height characteristics between events detected in the absorber and the junctions. Interestingly, there are also events indicating the presence of a transition region between the absorber and the junction. Event statistics imply that this region has a size of 6 μm, independent of photon energy, which is quite a bit larger than even the bulk coherence length in Ta. It is argued that an additional effect due to ‘smearing’ by the relaxed quasi-particle cloud must also be present. These effects are interesting and intriguing; not only from a theoretical viewpoint, but also for energy-gap engineering of superconducting materials for practical applications, e.g. in a variety of photon and particle detectors.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)28-32
    Number of pages5
    JournalNuclear instruments & methods in physics research. Section A : Accelerators, spectrometers, detectors and associated equipment
    Issue number1-2
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2000


    • Proximity effects
    • Superconducting films
    • Josephson devices
    • Tunneling phenomena
    • IR-58985
    • X- and γ-ray detectors

    Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'The lateral proximity effect and long-range energy-gap gradients in Ta/Al and Nb/Al Josephson junctions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this