Rashba splitting of Cooper pairs

Robert I. Shekhter, Ora Entin-Wohlman, Mats Jonson, Amnon Aharonov

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Abstract

We investigate theoretically the properties of a weak link between two superconducting leads, which has the form of a nonsuperconducting nanowire with a strong Rashba spin-orbit coupling caused by an electric field. In the Coulomb-blockade regime of single-electron tunneling, we find that such a weak link acts as a “spin splitter” of the spin states of Cooper pairs tunneling through the link, to an extent that depends on the direction of the electric field. We show that the Josephson current is sensitive to interference between the resulting two transmission channels, one where the spins of both members of a Cooper pair are preserved and one where they are both flipped. As a result, the current is a periodic function of the strength of the spin- orbit interaction and of the bending angle of the nanowire (when mechanically bent); an identical effect appears due to strain-induced spin-orbit coupling. In contrast, no spin-orbit induced interference effect can influence the current through a single weak link connecting two normal metals.
Original languageEnglish
Article number217001
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Volume116
Issue number21
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2016

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