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Research Highlight | Argonne National Laboratory

Novel method of deposition of superconducting films for quantum sensors

Argonne scientists have developed a new sputtering technique for superconducting nitride thin films for device applications. It opens new avenues in fields of nuclear and particle physics.

Scientific achievement

Inclusion of diffuse nitrogen ion plasma into sputtering of Niobium was found to produce Niobium Nitride thin films with superior superconducting properties on non-epitaxial substrates.

Significance and impact

Capability to produce high quality nitride thin films opens up possibilities to use high-speed superconducting detectors in nuclear physics that were previously thought to be impossible.

When compared to conventional methods, the nitrogen ion beam assisted sputtering achieves higher superconducting critical temperatures of thin films, smaller transition widths and is less sensitive to chemical conditions. Devices fabricated out of these films are capable of nominal operation even in magnetic fields required for nuclear physics experiments. (Image by Argonne National Laboratory.)

Research details

  • Presence of nitrogen ion beam during deposition process allows for more control of deposition kinematics
  • Nitride films are now possible to deposit at room temperatures and on conventional silicon or oxide wafers
  • Films are etched into superconducting nanowire detectors

DOI: https://​doi​.org/​10​.​1063​/​1​.​5031904

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