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Atomic structure and oxygen deficiency of the ultrathin aluminium oxide barrier in Al/AlOx/Al Josephson junctions.

Zeng L, Tran DT, Tai CW, Svensson G, Olsson E - Sci Rep (2016)

Bottom Line: The nanoscale dimension and disordered nature of the barrier oxide have been challenges for the direct experimental investigation of the atomic structure of the tunnel barrier.In the interior of the barrier, the oxide resembles the atomic structure of bulk aluminium oxide.Atomic defects such as oxygen vacancies at the interfaces can be the origin of the two-level systems and contribute to decoherence and noise in superconducting quantum circuits.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Applied Physics, Chalmers University of Technology, 41296, Göteborg, Sweden.

ABSTRACT
Al/AlOx/Al Josephson junctions are the building blocks of a wide range of superconducting quantum devices that are key elements for quantum computers, extremely sensitive magnetometers and radiation detectors. The properties of the junctions and the superconducting quantum devices are determined by the atomic structure of the tunnel barrier. The nanoscale dimension and disordered nature of the barrier oxide have been challenges for the direct experimental investigation of the atomic structure of the tunnel barrier. Here we show that the miniaturized dimension of the barrier and the interfacial interaction between crystalline Al and amorphous AlOx give rise to oxygen deficiency at the metal/oxide interfaces. In the interior of the barrier, the oxide resembles the atomic structure of bulk aluminium oxide. Atomic defects such as oxygen vacancies at the interfaces can be the origin of the two-level systems and contribute to decoherence and noise in superconducting quantum circuits.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Atomic structure of the barrier oxide in the Al/AlOx/Al junction.(a–c) Partial PDFs of NBED-RMC refined AlOx (blue-solid) compared with partial PDFs of initial AlOx structure model (green-dash) and previous MD simulated bulk liquid Al2O3 (black-dash).
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f4: Atomic structure of the barrier oxide in the Al/AlOx/Al junction.(a–c) Partial PDFs of NBED-RMC refined AlOx (blue-solid) compared with partial PDFs of initial AlOx structure model (green-dash) and previous MD simulated bulk liquid Al2O3 (black-dash).

Mentions: The amorphous structure of the AlOx barrier can be investigated separately in details by removing the crystalline Al layers on both sides of the barrier from the RMC-refined structure of Al-AlOx-Al junction. From this separated RMC-refined AlOx model, partial PDFs for Al-O, Al-Al, and O-O pair distances were extracted (Fig. 4a–c). The Al-O distribution after RMC refinement is closer to that of MD bulk liquid Al2O3, confirming the short-range order established by the Al-O ionic bond (Fig. 4a). The Al-O bond length found by NBED-RMC peaks at 1.77 Å, which is insignificantly different from the value (1.80 Å) of the bulk amorphous aluminium oxide determined experimentally29 and by simulations34. However, the NBED-RMC Al-O bond length distribution exhibits some shoulders (between 2–4 Å), which have not been reported in either experimental or modelling analyses of the bulk (except the subtle shoulder near 3.5 Å). These features can be the result of the possible Al-AlOx interaction at the interfaces that may be very significant over the small thickness (~1.5–2 nm) of the AlOx barrier. Although the Al-AlOx interaction can not have a dramatic influence on the strong ionic Al-O bond, it may be among the main reasons for the shift of the Al-Al and O-O pair-distance peaks (3.31 Å and 2.81 Å, respectively) (Fig. 4b,c, Table 1). Despite those subtle differences, the bond length distributions in the barrier oxide, especially the Al-O, Al-Al and O-O pair-distances, are well in line with the previous experimental data on bulk amorphous oxide.


Atomic structure and oxygen deficiency of the ultrathin aluminium oxide barrier in Al/AlOx/Al Josephson junctions.

Zeng L, Tran DT, Tai CW, Svensson G, Olsson E - Sci Rep (2016)

Atomic structure of the barrier oxide in the Al/AlOx/Al junction.(a–c) Partial PDFs of NBED-RMC refined AlOx (blue-solid) compared with partial PDFs of initial AlOx structure model (green-dash) and previous MD simulated bulk liquid Al2O3 (black-dash).
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4940733&req=5

f4: Atomic structure of the barrier oxide in the Al/AlOx/Al junction.(a–c) Partial PDFs of NBED-RMC refined AlOx (blue-solid) compared with partial PDFs of initial AlOx structure model (green-dash) and previous MD simulated bulk liquid Al2O3 (black-dash).
Mentions: The amorphous structure of the AlOx barrier can be investigated separately in details by removing the crystalline Al layers on both sides of the barrier from the RMC-refined structure of Al-AlOx-Al junction. From this separated RMC-refined AlOx model, partial PDFs for Al-O, Al-Al, and O-O pair distances were extracted (Fig. 4a–c). The Al-O distribution after RMC refinement is closer to that of MD bulk liquid Al2O3, confirming the short-range order established by the Al-O ionic bond (Fig. 4a). The Al-O bond length found by NBED-RMC peaks at 1.77 Å, which is insignificantly different from the value (1.80 Å) of the bulk amorphous aluminium oxide determined experimentally29 and by simulations34. However, the NBED-RMC Al-O bond length distribution exhibits some shoulders (between 2–4 Å), which have not been reported in either experimental or modelling analyses of the bulk (except the subtle shoulder near 3.5 Å). These features can be the result of the possible Al-AlOx interaction at the interfaces that may be very significant over the small thickness (~1.5–2 nm) of the AlOx barrier. Although the Al-AlOx interaction can not have a dramatic influence on the strong ionic Al-O bond, it may be among the main reasons for the shift of the Al-Al and O-O pair-distance peaks (3.31 Å and 2.81 Å, respectively) (Fig. 4b,c, Table 1). Despite those subtle differences, the bond length distributions in the barrier oxide, especially the Al-O, Al-Al and O-O pair-distances, are well in line with the previous experimental data on bulk amorphous oxide.

Bottom Line: The nanoscale dimension and disordered nature of the barrier oxide have been challenges for the direct experimental investigation of the atomic structure of the tunnel barrier.In the interior of the barrier, the oxide resembles the atomic structure of bulk aluminium oxide.Atomic defects such as oxygen vacancies at the interfaces can be the origin of the two-level systems and contribute to decoherence and noise in superconducting quantum circuits.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Applied Physics, Chalmers University of Technology, 41296, Göteborg, Sweden.

ABSTRACT
Al/AlOx/Al Josephson junctions are the building blocks of a wide range of superconducting quantum devices that are key elements for quantum computers, extremely sensitive magnetometers and radiation detectors. The properties of the junctions and the superconducting quantum devices are determined by the atomic structure of the tunnel barrier. The nanoscale dimension and disordered nature of the barrier oxide have been challenges for the direct experimental investigation of the atomic structure of the tunnel barrier. Here we show that the miniaturized dimension of the barrier and the interfacial interaction between crystalline Al and amorphous AlOx give rise to oxygen deficiency at the metal/oxide interfaces. In the interior of the barrier, the oxide resembles the atomic structure of bulk aluminium oxide. Atomic defects such as oxygen vacancies at the interfaces can be the origin of the two-level systems and contribute to decoherence and noise in superconducting quantum circuits.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus