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Personne# Haonan Huang

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A single spin in a Josephson junction can reverse the flow of the supercurrent by changing the sign of the superconducting phase difference across it. At mesoscopic length scales, these pi-junctions are employed in various applications, such as finding the pairing symmetry of the underlying superconductor, as well as quantum computing. At the atomic scale, the counterpart of a single spin in a superconducting tunnel junction is known as a Yu-Shiba-Rusinov state. Observation of the supercurrent reversal in that setting has so far remained elusive. Here we demonstrate such a 0 to pi transition of a Josephson junction through a Yu-Shiba-Rusinov state as we continuously change the impurity-superconductor coupling. We detect the sign change in the critical current by exploiting a second transport channel as reference in analogy to a superconducting quantum interference device, which provides our scanning tunnelling microscope with the required phase sensitivity. The measured change in the Josephson current is a signature of the quantum phase transition and allows its characterization with high resolution. Continuously changing the coupling between a magnetic impurity and a superconductor allows the observation of the reversal of supercurrent flow at the atomic scale.

Magnetic impurities generate a wealth of phenomena on surfaces. On metals, conducting electrons screen the magnetic moment giving rise to the Kondo effect. On superconductors, the Yu-Shiba-Rusinov (YSR) states emerge inside the superconducting gap due to the exchange coupling. In this thesis, we use a scanning tunneling microscope (STM) with a base temperature of 10mK to study magnetic impurities on surfaces. This thesis contains two parts, the interplay between magnetic impurities and superconductivity as well as the tunneling processes between YSR states.Concerning the interplay between magnetic impurities and superconductivity, the single impurity Anderson model (SIAM) offers a consistent picture, in which the impurity substrate coupling is a central parameter of experimental relevance. For YSR phenomena, the mean field (MF) approximation is usually sufficient which gives analytical results for a quantitative interpretation of the experimental data. We tune the coupling by the atomic forces in the junction and quantitatively identify the key role of the coupling in the YSR energy. We further investigate multiple Andreev reflections (MARs) involving a single YSR state, confirming the absence of a spin forbidden family of MARs thereby proving the spin non-degeneracy of the YSR states experimentally.The presence of YSR impurities not only gives rise to peaks in the tunneling spectra, but also influences the superconducting ground state. At a small coupling, the impurity spin is unscreened, which results in a pi phase shift in the Josephson transport. At a large coupling, the impurity spin is screened and the phase is 0. The change of the YSR ground state qualifies as a quantum phase transition (QPT). We observe a significant step in the Josephson current when tuning the coupling across the QPT, which signals the 0-pi transition and the change of the ground state.We then go beyond the MF approximation and include correlation effects in the SIAM to fit the Kondo effect in the magnetic field. We present the scaling between the YSR energy and the Kondo temperature connected by the SIAM. Despite the close relation between the two phenomena, the question remains that to which extent the correlation effects persist in the superconducting state. On this, we show that the correlation effects manifest as an offset current in the YSR measurements.Conventionally, the STM tip only serves as a probe to unravel the sample properties. However, in principle the tip, sample and junction form one quantum system. With the capability to controllably introduce YSR states of desired properties on the tip apex (the YSR-STM), we construct a minimal tunnel junction between two discrete levels, a YSR state on the sample and a YSR state on the tip apex. The tunneling between two YSR states, Shiba-Shiba tunneling, features sharp current peaks, the area of which reveals the relaxation dynamics. We further show that the spin plays an important role in Shiba-Shiba tunneling and we find a behavior consistent with paramagnetic impurities. To conclude, this thesis presents multiple experimental aspects of a single YSR state quantitatively explained by the SIAM, both on the MF level and in the fully correlated situation. The possibility to functionalize the STM tip with a YSR state opens more possibilities, and we show the tunneling between two YSR states as a first application, laying the basis for possible extension of the YSR-STM to more scenarios.

Haonan Huang, Klaus Kern, Jacob Senkpiel

Magnetic impurities on superconductors induce discrete bound levels inside the superconducting gap, known as Yu-Shiba-Rusinov (YSR) states. YSR levels are fully spin polarized such that the tunneling between YSR states depends on their relative spin orientation. Here, we use scanning tunneling spectroscopy to resolve the spin dynamics in the tunneling process between two YSR states by experimentally extracting the angle between the spins. To this end, we exploit the ratio of thermally activated and direct spectral features in the measurement to directly extract the relative spin orientation between the two YSR states. We find freely rotating spins down to 7 mK, indicating a purely paramagnetic nature of the impurities. Such a noncollinear spin alignment is essential not only for producing Majorana bound states but also as an outlook manipulating and moving the Majorana state onto the tip.