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Nature ; 539(7629): 407-410, 2016 11 17.
Artículo en Inglés | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-27786173


Energy dissipation is a fundamental process governing the dynamics of physical, chemical and biological systems. It is also one of the main characteristics that distinguish quantum from classical phenomena. In particular, in condensed matter physics, scattering mechanisms, loss of quantum information or breakdown of topological protection are deeply rooted in the intricate details of how and where the dissipation occurs. Yet the microscopic behaviour of a system is usually not formulated in terms of dissipation because energy dissipation is not a readily measurable quantity on the micrometre scale. Although nanoscale thermometry has gained much recent interest, existing thermal imaging methods are not sensitive enough for the study of quantum systems and are also unsuitable for the low-temperature operation that is required. Here we report a nano-thermometer based on a superconducting quantum interference device with a diameter of less than 50 nanometres that resides at the apex of a sharp pipette: it provides scanning cryogenic thermal sensing that is four orders of magnitude more sensitive than previous devices-below 1 µK Hz-1/2. This non-contact, non-invasive thermometry allows thermal imaging of very low intensity, nanoscale energy dissipation down to the fundamental Landauer limit of 40 femtowatts for continuous readout of a single qubit at one gigahertz at 4.2 kelvin. These advances enable the observation of changes in dissipation due to single-electron charging of individual quantum dots in carbon nanotubes. They also reveal a dissipation mechanism attributable to resonant localized states in graphene encapsulated within hexagonal boron nitride, opening the door to direct thermal imaging of nanoscale dissipation processes in quantum matter.

Nat Commun ; 7: 12566, 2016 08 25.
Artículo en Inglés | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-27558907


Atomically sharp oxide heterostructures exhibit a range of novel physical phenomena that are absent in the parent compounds. A prominent example is the appearance of highly conducting and superconducting states at the interface between LaAlO3 and SrTiO3. Here we report an emergent phenomenon at the LaMnO3/SrTiO3 interface where an antiferromagnetic Mott insulator abruptly transforms into a nanoscale inhomogeneous magnetic state. Upon increasing the thickness of LaMnO3, our scanning nanoSQUID-on-tip microscopy shows spontaneous formation of isolated magnetic nanoislands, which display thermally activated moment reversals in response to an in-plane magnetic field. The observed superparamagnetic state manifests the emergence of thermodynamic electronic phase separation in which metallic ferromagnetic islands nucleate in an insulating antiferromagnetic matrix. We derive a model that captures the sharp onset and the thickness dependence of the magnetization. Our model suggests that a nearby superparamagnetic-ferromagnetic transition can be gate tuned, holding potential for applications in magnetic storage and spintronics.

Sci Rep ; 5: 7598, 2015 Jan 07.
Artículo en Inglés | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-25564043


The dynamics of quantized magnetic vortices and their pinning by materials defects determine electromagnetic properties of superconductors, particularly their ability to carry non-dissipative currents. Despite recent advances in the understanding of the complex physics of vortex matter, the behavior of vortices driven by current through a multi-scale potential of the actual materials defects is still not well understood, mostly due to the scarcity of appropriate experimental tools capable of tracing vortex trajectories on nanometer scales. Using a novel scanning superconducting quantum interference microscope we report here an investigation of controlled dynamics of vortices in lead films with sub-Angstrom spatial resolution and unprecedented sensitivity. We measured, for the first time, the fundamental dependence of the elementary pinning force of multiple defects on the vortex displacement, revealing a far more complex behavior than has previously been recognized, including striking spring softening and broken-spring depinning, as well as spontaneous hysteretic switching between cellular vortex trajectories. Our results indicate the importance of thermal fluctuations even at 4.2 K and of the vital role of ripples in the pinning potential, giving new insights into the mechanisms of magnetic relaxation and electromagnetic response of superconductors.