Observation of metastable states in a superconducting Josephson circuit using an Andreev interferometer

Andrea Iagallo

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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We report on measurements of macroscopic quantum states in superconducting Josephson circuits using a highly sensitive hybrid quantum interferometer as the readout probe. The investigated Josephson circuit is one of the leading candidates as solid-state qubits (persistent current qubit), which are known to exhibit macroscopic quantum states with atomic-like properties. The readout device is a modified Andreev interferometer with semi-metallic normal segment in a “folded" geometry, and is designed to reduce the back action during measurement, as well as minimising the electromagnetic coupling between the circuit and the environment.
A pulsed lock-in technique has been developed to perform continuous readout of the superconductor phase difference using pulse lengths down to 10 ns. The technique enables to control the energy of the probing quasiparticles in the normal segment of the interferometer, which in turn allows to control of the supercurrent owing in the SNS junction and prevents electron heating of the normal segment.
An experimental set-up was designed and installed in a dilution fridge consisting of shielded wiring, magnetic screens, RF tight sample holder and printed circuit board to allow the injection of high frequency excitation signals, while minimising the environment effect on the qubit through careful electrical filtering. The effect of strong RF irradiation on Andreev interferometers allowed us to estimate the response time of the readout device to be less than 40 ps.
The measurements show that two macroscopically distinct metastable states exist when the device is biased at the qubit degeneracy point, between which the system makes transitions that can be continuously monitored. Real time kinetics of the system has been investigated at different magnetic fluxes, pulse parameters, temperature and RF radiation. Based on statistical analysis of the transitions, we argue that the metastability is connected with macroscopic quantum tunnelling effects rather than thermal excitation. The experimental data support the hypothesis of a large low frequency noise causing low transition rates.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Nicholls, James, Supervisor
Award date1 Nov 2011
Publication statusUnpublished - 2011

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