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Journal Article

Coherence of the superconducting wavefunction between the heavy-fermion superconductor UPd2AI3 and niobium

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He, Y., Muirhead, C., Bradshaw, A., Abell, J. S., Schank, C., Geibel, G., et al. (1992). Coherence of the superconducting wavefunction between the heavy-fermion superconductor UPd2AI3 and niobium. Nature, 357(6375), 227-229. doi:10.1038/357227a0.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0019-D77F-6
HEAVY-fermion superconductors (in which the charge carriers have an effective mass approximately 100 times the free electron mass) have been the subject of intense study during the past decade 1, in part because of the suggestion that some of these materials may exhibit non-conventional pairing mechanisms 2. Here we report a demonstration of quantum coherence of the superconducting wavefunction between the conventional superconductor niobium and the recently discovered 3 heavy-fermion superconductor UPd2Al3, which is a potential candidate for a non-conventional pairing mechanism 4. The experimental method is similar to our earlier work on high-T(c) materials 5,6: we use a small pointed rod of UPd2Al3 to bridge the gap in an almost closed niobium ring. We observe persistent currents in the composite ring, and trapped flux, which is in discrete quantum states separated by the flux quantum h/2e. Although the observation of phase coherence between UPd2Al3 and niobium may not constrain the nature of the pairing in UPd2Al3, we also observe Josephson-like current-voltage characteristics at the junction, but with very small products of critical current and normal-state resistance. If other possible causes can be eliminated, these small I(c)R(n) values may point to a small tunnelling probability between the two superconductors, and hence to unconventional pairing in UPd2Al3.