Intrinsic Josephson junctions in mesas and ultrathin BSCCO single crystals: Ultimate control of shape and dimensions
Journal article, 2007
We describe experiments which are only possible through an ultimate control of sample shape and dimensions down to nanometer scale whereby transport measurements can be done in various restricted geometries. We use photolithography patterning together with a flip-chip technique to isolate very thin (d similar to 100 nm) pieces of BiSr2CaCu2O8+delta (BSCCO) single crystals. Ar-ion milling allows us to further thin these crystals down to a few nanometers in a controlled way. With decreasing thickness below two to three unit cells, the superconducting transition temperature gradually decreases to zero and the in-plane resistivity increases to large values indicating the existence of a superconductor-insulator transition in these ultrathin single crystals. In a refined technique, a precise control of the etching depth from both sides of the crystal makes it possible to form stacks of intrinsic Josephson junctions (IJJs) inside the ultrathin single crystals. The stacks can be tailor-made to any microscopic height (0-9 nm < d, i.e. enclosing a specific number of IJJs (0-6). In certain geometries, by feeding current into the topmost CU2O4-layer of a mesa on the surface of a BSCCO single crystal, we measured the critical value of this current by detecting a sharp upturn or break in the current-voltage characteristics. From this, we estimate the sheet critical current density of a single CU2O4 plane to be similar to 0.3-0.7 A/cm at 4.5 K, corresponding to a bulk current density of similar to 2-5 MA/cm(2). These values are among the largest ever reported for BSCCO single crystals, thin-films and tapes.