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On the origin of the controversial electrostatic field effect in superconductors

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/03/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Nature Communications
Publication StatusAccepted/In press
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Superconducting quantum devices offer numerous applications, from electrical metrology and magnetic sensing to energy-efficient high-end computing and advanced quantum information processing. The key elements of quantum circuits are (single and double) Josephson junctions controllable either by electric current or magnetic field. The voltage control, commonly used in semiconductor-based devices via the electrostatic field effect, would be far more versatile and practical. Hence, the field effect recently reported in superconducting devices may revolutionise the whole field of superconductor electronics provided it is confirmed. Here we show that the suppression of the critical current attributed to the field effect, can be explained by quasiparticle excitations in the constriction of superconducting devices. Our results demonstrate that a miniscule leakage current between the gate and the constriction of devices perfectly follows the Fowler-Nordheim model of electron field emission from a metal electrode and injects quasiparticles with energies sufficient to weaken or even suppress superconductivity.