Andreev Bound States and Their Signatures
J. A. Sauls
- Address: Fermilab-Northwestern Center for Applied Physics & Superconducting Technologies and
Department of Physics, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208
- Date: June 5, 2018
Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. A 20180140
Many of the properties of superconductors related to quantum coherence are revealed when the superconducting state is forced to vary in space - in response to an external magnetic field, a proximity contact, an interface to a ferromagnet, or to impurities embedded in the superconductor. Amoung the earliest examples is Andreev reflection of an electron into a retro-reflected hole at a normal-superconducting interface. In regions of strong inhomogeneity multiple Andreev reflection leads to the formation of sub-gap states, Andreev bound states, with excitation energies below the superconducting gap. These states play a central role in our understanding of inhomogeneous superconductors.
The discoveries of unconventional superconductivity in many classes of materials, advances in fabrication of superconducting/ferromagnetic hybrids and nano-structures for confining superfluid 3He, combined with theoretical developments in topological quantum matter have dramatically expanded the significance of branch conversion scattering and Andreev bound state formation. This collection of articles highlights developments in inhomogeneous superconductivity, unconventional superconductivity and topological phases of superfluid 3He, in which Andreev scattering and bound states underpin much of the physics of these systems.
This article is the introductory article to the theme issue
'Andreev bound states'
published by the Royal Society,
and it intended as an introduction to the basic physics of Andreev scattering, bound-state formation and their signatures. The goal is both an introduction for interested readers who are not already experts in the field, and to highlight several examples in which branch conversion scattering and Andreev bound states provide unique signatures in the transport properties of superconductors.