Theses Doctoral

Towards inducing superconductivity into graphene

Efetov, Dmitri K.

Graphenes transport properties have been extensively studied in the 10 years since its discovery in 2004, with ground-breaking experimental observations such as Klein tunneling, fractional quantum Hall effect and Hofstadters butterfly. Though, so far, it turned out to be rather poor on complex correlated electronic ground states and phase transitions, despite various theoretical predictions. The purpose of this thesis is to help understanding the underlying theoretical and experimental reasons for the lack of strong electronic interactions in graphene, and, employing graphenes high tunability and versatility, to identify and alter experimental parameters that could help to induce stronger correlations.

In particular graphene holds one last, not yet experimentally discovered prediction, namely exhibiting intrinsic superconductivity. With its vanishingly small Fermi surface at the Dirac point, graphene is a semi-metal with very weak electronic interactions. Though, if it is doped into the metallic regime, where the size of the Fermi surface becomes comparable to the size of the Brillouin zone, the density of states becomes sizeable and electronic interactions are predicted to be dramatically enhanced, resulting in competing correlated ground states such as superconductivity, magnetism and charge density wave formation. Following these predictions, this thesis first describes the creation of metallic graphene at high carrier doping via electrostatic doping techniques based on electrolytic gates. Due to graphenes surface only properties, we are able to induce carrier densities above n>10¹⁴cm⁻²(εF>1eV) into the chemically inert graphene. While at these record high carrier densities we yet do not observe superconductivity, we do observe fundamentally altered transport properties as compared to semi-metallic graphene. Here, detailed measurements of the low temperature resistivity reveal that the electron-phonon interactions are governed by a reduced, density dependent effective Debey temperature - the so-called Bloch-Grüneisen temperature ΘBG. We also probe the transport properties of the high energy sub-bands in bilayer graphene by electrolyte gating. Furthermore we demonstrate that electrolyte gates can be used to drive intercalation reactions in graphite and present an all optical study of the reaction kinetics during the creation of the graphene derived graphite intercalation compound LiC₆, and show the general applicability of the electrolyte gates to other 2-dimensional materials such as thin films of complex oxides, where we demonstrate gating dependent conductance changes in the spin-orbit Mott insulator Sr₂IrO₄.

Another, entirely different approach to induce superconducting correlations into graphene is by bringing it into proximity to a superconductor. Although not intrinsic to graphene, Cooper pairs can leak in from the superconductor and exist in graphene in the form of phase-coherent electron-hole states, the so-called Andreev states. Here we demonstrate a new way of fabricating highly transparent graphene/superconductor junctions by vertical stacking of graphene and the type-II van der Waals superconductor NbSe₂. Due to NbSe₂'s high upper critical field of Hc₂= 4 T we are able to test a long proposed and yet not well understood regime, where proximity effect and quantum Hall effect coexist.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Kim, Philip
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 7, 2014