High-resolution studies of the Majorana atomic chain platform

Benjamin E. Feldman, Mallika T. Randeria, Jian Li, Sangjun Jeon, Yonglong Xie, Zhijun Wang, Ilya K. Drozdov, B. Andrei Bernevig, Ali Yazdani

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108 Scopus citations


Ordered assemblies of magnetic atoms on the surface of conventional superconductors can be used to engineer topological superconducting phases and realize Majorana fermion quasiparticles (MQPs) in a condensed matter setting. Recent experiments have shown that chains of Fe atoms on Pb generically have the required electronic characteristics to form a one-dimensional topological superconductor and have revealed spatially resolved signatures of localized MQPs at the ends of such chains. Here we report higher-resolution measurements of the same atomic chain system performed using a dilution refrigerator scanning tunnelling microscope (STM). With significantly better energy resolution than previous studies, we show that the zero-bias peak (ZBP) in Fe chains has no detectable splitting from hybridization with other states. The measurements also reveal that the ZBP exhibits a distinctive 'double eye' spatial pattern on nanometre length scales. Theoretically we show that this is a general consequence of STM measurements of MQPs with substantial spectral weight in the superconducting substrate, a conclusion further supported by measurements of Pb overlayers deposited on top of the Fe chains. Finally, we report experiments performed with superconducting tips in search of the particle-hole symmetric MQP signature expected in such measurements.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)286-291
Number of pages6
JournalNature Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy

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