Robustness of Topological Order in Semiconductor-Superconductor Nanowires in the Coulomb Blockade Regime
Björn Zocher, Mats Horsdal, and Bernd Rosenow
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Submission date: 13. May. 2013
published in: New journal of physics, 15 (2013) 8, art-no. 085003
DOI number (of the published article): 10.1088/1367-2630/15/8/085003
PACS-Numbers: 74.25.F-, 85.35.Gv, 74.78.Na, 74.20.Rp
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Semiconductor-superconductor hybrid systems are promising candidates for the realization Majorana fermions and topological order, i.e. topologically protected degeneracies, in solid state devices. We show that the topological order is mirrored in the excitation spectra and can be observed in nonlinear Coulomb blockade transport through a ring-shaped nanowire. Especially, the excitation spectrum is almost independent of magnetic flux in the topologically trivial phase but acquires a characteristic h∕e magnetic flux periodicity in the nontrivial phase. The transition between the trivial and nontrivial phase is reflected in the closing and reopening of an excitation gap. We show that the signatures of topological order are robust against details of the geometry, electrostatic disorder, and the existence of additional subbands and only rely on the topology of the nanowire and the existence of a superconducting gap. Finally, we show that the coherence length in the nontrivial phase is much longer than in the trivial phase. This opens the possibility to coat the nanowire with superconducting nanograins and thereby significantly reduce the current due to cotunneling of Cooper pairs and to enhance the Coulomb charging energy without destroying the superconducting gap.