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Quasiparticle tunnel electroresistance in superconducting junctions

Authors:  V. Rouco, R. El Hage, A. Sander, J. Grandal, K. Seurre, X. Palermo, J. Briatico, S. Collin, J. Trastoy, K. Bouzehouane, A. I. Buzdin, G. Singh, N. Bergeal, C. Feuillet-Palma, J. Lesueur, C. Leon, M. Varela, J. Santamaría and Javier E. Villegas

Nature Communications  11, 658 (2020) 

Abstract: The term tunnel electroresistance (TER) denotes a fast, non-volatile, reversible resistance switching triggered by voltage pulses in ferroelectric tunnel junctions. It is explained by subtle mechanisms connected to the voltage-induced reversal of the ferroelectric polarization. Here we demonstrate that effects functionally indistinguishable from the TER can be produced in a simpler junction scheme—a direct contact between a metal and an oxide—through a different mechanism: a reversible redox reaction that modifies the oxide’s ground-state. This is shown in junctions based on a cuprate superconductor, whose ground-state is sensitive to the oxygen stoichiometry and can be tracked in operando via changes in the conductance spectra. Furthermore, we find that electrochemistry is the governing mechanism even if a ferroelectric is placed between the metal and the oxide. Finally, we extend the concept of electroresistance to the tunnelling of superconducting quasiparticles, for which the switching effects are much stronger than for normal electrons. Besides providing crucial understanding, our results provide a basis for non-volatile Josephson memory devices.

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