• GROWTH AND STUDY OF MAGNESIUM DIBORIDE ULTRATHIN FILMS FOR THz SENSOR APPLICATION

      Xi, Xiaoxing; Tao, R. (Rongjia); Yan, Qimin; Ren, Shenqiang (Temple University. Libraries, 2017)
      Thanks to high Tc of 40 K, high Jc of > 10^7 A.cm^-2, and no weak link behavior across the grain boundary in MgB2 material. This highest Tc among all conventional BCS superconductors, and better material properties of MgB2 compared to high Tc cuprate superconductors makes this material attractive for many applications including, but not limited to, power cables, Josephson junction based electronic devices, SRF cavities, THz sensors and single photon counters. Ultrathin superconducting films are a key element in various detectors utilized in remote sensing over a large part of the entire electromagnetic spectrum. The superconducting hot electron bolometer (HEB) mixer is a crucial detector for high-resolution spectroscopy at THz frequencies. The state-of-the-art NbN phonon-cooled HEB mixers have a relatively narrow (IF) bandwidth ~ 3- 4 GHz as a direct result of the poor acoustic transparency of the film-substrate interface and low sound velocity in NbN reducing the phonon escape time in the film. Alternatively, MgB2 displays a very short τe-ph ~ ps. The phonon escape time is also short due to the high sound velocity in the material (~ 7 Km.s^-2) thus giving rise to a broader IF bandwidth. Also, smaller magnetic penetration depth (λ ≈ 40 nm) of MgB2 makes material of choices for single photon detector application. The response time of an SNSPD is proportional to the square of its magnetic penetration depth λ. Therefore, MgB2 may potentially operate 10-fold faster than the NbN (λ =200 nm) based SNSPD. In this work, I present my effort to fabricate high quality ultrathin superconducting MgB2 films on 6H-SiC (0001) substrates, and study their superconducting and electronic properties. C- epitaxial 10 nm showed Tc of above 36 K, while residual resistivity of up to 26 μΩ.cm was achieved. Critical currents of more than 6 × 10^6 A · cm^−2 at 20 K have been measured for the films with thicknesses iv ranging from 10 to 100 nm. Fishtail structures have been observed in the magnetic field dependence of the critical current density for the thinnest of these films, indicating the presence of defects, which act as vortex pinning centers. From the magnetic field dependence, an average distance between adjacent pinning centers of 35 nm has been obtained for the thinnest films. Ultrathin film as thin as 1.8 nm (6 unit cells) can be achieved by Hybrid Physical-Chemical Vapor Deposition (HPCVD) followed by low angle Ar ion milling. These post processed films exhibit better superconducting properties compared to directly grown films. The 1.8 nm, showed Tc > 28 K and Jc > 10^6 A/cm^2 4 K. The surface roughness of the films was significantly improved and the suppression of Tc from the bulk value is much slower in milled films than in as-grown films. These results show the great potential of these ultrathin films for superconducting devices and present a possibility to explore superconductivity in MgB2 at the 2D limit. Finally, I measured the upper critical field of MgB2 films of various thickness and extracted their thickness dependent in-plane intraband diffusivities by using Gurevich model developed for two-band MgB2 superconductor in dirty limit. Results showed that π band diffusivity (Dπ) decreases rapidly from 71.12 cm^2/s for 100 nm film to 4.6 cm^2/s for 5 nm film where as �� band diffusivity (����) decreases much slower from 2.8 cm^2/s for 100 nm film to 0.8 cm^2/s for 5 nm film. This larger Dπ than ���� indicates the cleaner π band.