Anisotropic superconductivity of niobium based on its response to non-magnetic disorder
Makariy A. Tanatar and Daniele Torsello and Kamal R. Joshi and Sunil Ghimire and Cameron J. Kopas and Jayss Marshall and Josh Y. Mutus and Gianluca Ghigo and Mehdi Zarea and J. A. Sauls and Ruslan Prozorov
Physical Review B 106, 224511 (2022)
Niobium is one of the most studied superconductors, both theoretically and experimentally. It is tremendously important for applications, and it has the highest superconducting transition temperature, Tc=9.33 K, of all pure metals. In addition to power applications in alloys, pure niobium is used for sensitive magneto-sensing, radio-frequency cavities, and, more recently, as circuit metallization layers in superconducting qubits. A detailed understanding of its electronic and superconducting structure, especially its normal and superconducting state anisotropies, is crucial for mitigating the loss of quantum coherence in such devices. Recently, a microscopic theory of the anisotropic properties of niobium with the disorder was put forward. To verify theoretical predictions, we studied the effect of disorder produced by 3.5 MeV proton irradiation of thin Nb films grown by the same team and using the same protocols as those used in transmon qubits. By measuring the superconducting transition temperature and upper critical fields, we show a clear suppression of Tc by potential (non-magnetic) scattering, which is directly related to the anisotropic order parameter. We obtain a very close quantitative agreement between the theory and the experiment.
- Comment: 7 pages, 4 figures