UMD CMNS Physics S1 Color

Superconductivity in the topologically protected surface states of a three-dimensional topological insulator has been predicted to be a promising platform for exploring exotic quantum states such as Majorana fermion excitations. Although previous efforts have focused on the superconducting proximity effect in bilayer structures between a superconductor and a chalcogenide topological insulator, suppressing the conducting bulk contribution and securing high interfacial transparency between a superconductor and a topological insulator have been major experimental bottlenecks to demonstrating induced superconductivity. Researchers from the Center for Nanophysics and Advanced Materials led by Ichiro Takeuchi, in collaboration with Richard Greene and Johnpierre Paglione, have now demonstrated a supercurrent to flow through the surface layer of the topological Kondo insulator material samarium hexaboride (SmB6) via in situ deposition of a superconducting layer on SmB6 thin films. Published in Physical Review X, this study provides a unique insight into the surface state of SmB6, and marks an important stepping stone for pursuing novel quantum phenomena using thin-film topological insulator devices.