Grain Boundary Josephson Junctions and Circuits in High-Temperature Superconductors

HTSC-GBJ - 7100

Work Area: High-Temperature Superconductivity related to Low-Current Applications

Keywords grain boundary josephson junctions, high-temperature superconducting thin-film technology, josephson electronics, high-frequency devices

Start Date: 1 September 92 / Duration: 36 months / Status: running

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Abstract HTSC-GBJ is fabricating and evaluating high-temperature superconducting Josephson elements based on artificially generated, engineered grain boundaries. Important issues are the controllability, reproducibility and feasibility of the fabrication process, as well as the reliability, application potential, performance limits and physics of the fabricated devices. Thin-film components and grain boundary Josephson junctions (GBJs) will be fabricated from YBa2Cu3O7-d and designed for 77K operation. The GBJs will be used to fabricate high-frequency devices. The feasibility, performance limits and application potential of these devices is being investigated in order to provide basic information for future industrial exploitation.


Oxide high-temperature superconductors are presently being explored in order to extend superconducting electronics to the liquid-nitrogen temperature range. In this technology the Josephson junction is the key element. The project's aim is to develop a reliable and reproducible fabrication process for Josephson junctions of high-temperature superconductors. A further aim is to investigate the properties of such junctions by measurements and model simulations with the goal of finding applications in the area of superconducting electronics.

Approach and Methods

Based on the highly promising results obtained very recently in the USA and Europe, the project's work concentrates on engineered grain boundaries in thin-film high-Tc superconductors as the elementary Josephson weak link. The complementary skills of the consortium members provide a unique opportunity to simultaneously pursue all four main fabrication principles presently conceivable for engineered grain boundary junctions. At the same time, the combined instrumentation available to all consortium members ensures a complete and identical characterisation of the electrical and microstructural junction properties.

Following the optimisation of the fabrication process for the grain boundary Josephson junctions, the consortium will design a Josephson mixer and a flux flow amplifier. The performance of both devices will be quantitatively evaluated.

Progress and Results

Engineered Grain Boundary Junctions (GBJs) of the bicrystal and step-edge type have been prepared using the lithographic, ion-beam etching and film deposition facilities of the consortium. Furthermore, parallel and series arrays of bicrystal GBJs have been fabricated in a reproducible and controllable way. The GBJs were characterised with respect to their low-frequency, high-frequency, and noise properties. In addition, the spatial homogeneity of the electrical transport properties of GBJs has been analysed by Low Temperature Scanning Electron Microscopy (LTSEM). Furthermore, a new method for the determination of the supercurrent correlation function has been developed.

In improving the fabrication process of bicrystal GBJs a spread of the junction parameter of less than 30% on the same substrate could be achieved. The noise temperature of bicrystal and step-edge GBJs was found to be consistent with the sample temperature and junction resistance. Under certain conditions, large excess noise was found and was attributed to fluxon fluctuations. Using LTSEM flux states in bicrystal GBJs could be imaged. Based on parallel arrays of bicrystal GBJs magnetic field effect three-terminal devices showing a current amplification of up to 5 have been fabricated.


The reliable and reproducible fabrication of high-Tc grain boundary Josephson junctions operating in the liquid-nitrogen temperature range will have a strong impact on extending superconducting electronics to the higher temperature regime. Here the successful demonstration of the Josephson mixer and flux-flow amplifier opens the door to important high-frequency applications such as radio astronomy, satellite communication, and possibly ground communication as well.

Latest Publications


University of Tübingen - D
Morgenstelle 14
D - 72076 TÜBINGEN


The Technical University of Denmark - DK
Departement Optronique CEA-DTA - F
Chalmers University of Technology - S
University of Strathclyde - UK

Associate partner

Università di Salerno - I


Prof.Dr. R.P. Huebener
tel +49/7071-296315
fax +49/7071-296322

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HTSC-GBJ - 7100, August 1994

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html version of synopsis by Nick Cook