Low Leakage Current Nb-Based Tunnel Junctions with an Extra Top Al Layer

Mizuki IKEYA  Takashi NOGUCHI  Takafumi KOJIMA  Takeshi SAKAI  

IEICE TRANSACTIONS on Electronics   Vol.E100-C    No.3    pp.291-297
Publication Date: 2017/03/01
Online ISSN: 1745-1353
DOI: 10.1587/transele.E100.C.291
Type of Manuscript: Special Section PAPER (Special Section on Leading-Edge Technologies of Superconducting Measurement Systems)
SIS,  junction,  IV characteristic,  sub-gap current,  STEM,  EDX,  

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In this paper, we describe the fabrication of low leakage Superconductor/Insulator/Superconductor (SIS) junctions with a Nb/Al/AlOx/Al/Nb structure. In other words, an extra Al layer was added onto the top of the insulator in a conventional Nb/Al/AlOx/Nb junction. We measured the current and voltage (IV) characteristics of both the Nb/Al/AlOx/Al/Nb and Nb/Al/AlOx/Nb junctions at the temperature of liquid helium, and found that the sub-gap leakage current in the Nb/Al/AlOx/Al/Nb junctions was much lower than that of the Nb/Al/AlOx/Nb junctions. Our analysis of the IV characteristics indicates that the quality of the AlOx insulator used in the Nb/Al/AlOx/Al/Nb junction was close to ideal, while the insulator used in the Nb/Al/AlOx/Nb junction had possible defects. According to the scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM) images and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) analyses, it was evident that the Nb atoms diffused into the bottom electrode of the Nb/Al/AlOx/Nb junction, while a smaller number diffused into the bottom electrode of the Nb/Al/AlOx/Al/Nb junction. Therefore, we conclude that the extra Al layer effectively acted as a buffer layer that prevented the Nb atoms from diffusing into the insulator and bottom electrode. The presence of the top Al layer is expected to favorably improve the quality of junctions with a very high current density, and support the extension of the RF and IF bandwidths of SIS mixers.