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Quantum Hall Effect Dissertation
Quantum Hall Effect Dissertation

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THE FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY

COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
TRANSPORT PROPERTIES IN UNCONVENTIONAL
SUPERCONDUCTORS
By
QINGHONG CUI
A Dissertation submitted to the
Department of Physics
in partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Awarded:
Spring Semester, 2007
The members of the Committee approve the Dissertation of Qinghong Cui defended on
March 12, 2007.
Kun Yang
Professor Directing Dissertation
Naresh S. Dalal
Outside Committee Member
Nicholas E. Bonesteel
Committee Member
Jianming Cao
Committee Member
Jorge Piekarewicz
Committee Member
The Office of Graduate Studies has verified and approved the above named committee members.
ii
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to my advisor Professor Kun Yang for
his support and guidance during my graduate studies. His insights in physics are remarkable
and always helped me to make progress in this work. I am truly grateful for his patience
and advice whenever I had difficulties in research. I also wish to thank Professors Chia-Ren
Hu, Xin Wan, and John Wei, with whom I am fortunately in collaboration. I especially
appreciate the help of Xin Wan when I began to write the numerical programs, and the
discussions with Chia-Ren Hu over phones. My many thanks also go to Professors Nicholas
E. Bonesteel, Jianming Cao, Naresh S. Dalal, and Jorge Piekarewicz, who served in my
dissertation committee, for their time and effort.
During my stay at Florida State University, I got assists from many people in various
ways. In particular, I would like to thank the graduate coordinators of the Physics
Department, Kay Caudill and Sherry Tointigh, and the assistant of the condensed matter
group at National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, Alice E. Hobbs. I also want to thank
Tom Combs for his efforts in computer support.
This work was financially supported by NSF Grant No. DMR-0225698 and DOE Grant
No. DE-FG52-06NA26193.
iii
TABLE OF CONTENTS
List of Tables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vi
List of Figures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vii
Abstract . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ix
1. INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
1.1 Spin quantum Hall effect . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
1.2 Andreev reflections and tunneling spectroscopy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
2. UNCONVENTIONAL SUPERCONDUCTORS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
2.1 Hubbard model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
2.2 Pairing symmetry in unconventional superconductors . . . . . . . . . . . 19
2.3 Disordered superconductors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
3. SPIN QUANTUM HALL TRANSITIONS IN p-WAVE SUPERCONDUCTORS 27
3.1 Spin quantum Hall effect . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
3.2 Numerical results . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
3.3 Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
4. FULDE-FERRELL-LARKIN-OVCHINNIKOV SUPERCONDUCTOR . . . . 41
4.1 The Fulde-Ferrell state . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
4.2 Properties of the Fulde-Ferrell state . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
4.3 Discussion of the Larkin-Ovchinnikov state . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
5. CONDUCTANCE CHARACTERISTICS OF NORMAL METAL/SUPERCONDUTOR
JUNCTIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
5.1 Blonder-Tinkham-Klapwijk theory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
5.2 The conductance characteristics of the Fulde-Ferrell state case . . . . . . 55
5.3 Andreev bound states in the d-wave Fulde-Ferrell superconductor with
(110) junction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
5.4 Summary and Discussion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
6. CONCLUSION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
REFERENCES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68
iv
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
v
LIST OF TABLES
1.1 Symmetry classes of dirty superconductors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
3.1 Critical exponents for different cutoff energies with W = 8.0 . . . . . . . . . 35
vi
LIST OF FIGURES
1.1 Schematic illustration of the Fermi surfaces of spin-up and -down electrons in
the momentum space for a superconductor under Zeeman field. . . . . . . . . 5
1.2 Density of states (DOS) of the 2D electron gas under magnetic field . . . . . 8
1.3 Diagram of metallic loop used in Laughlin’s argument and large superconduc-
tor ring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
1.4 Schematic drawing of the Andreev reflection and the normal specular reflection 11
1.5 Schematic illustration of the formation of the Andreev bound states . . . . . 12
1.6 Schematic demonstration of the processes in BTK theory . . . . . . . . . . . 14
1.7 The normalized differential conductance vs voltage for a normal metal/s-wave
superconductor junction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
1.8 The normalized differential conductance vs voltage for a normal metal/d
x
2
−y
2-
wave superconductor junction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
1.9 The normalized conductance spectra taken on the ¦110¦ crystal face of YBCO
with a Pt-Ir tip at 4.2K . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
2.1 Schematic illustration of the pairing symmetries in conventional and uncon-
ventional superconductors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
2.2 DOS of superconductors with various pairing symmetries and disorder strengths 24
3.1 DOS and spin Hall conductance for L = 10 and W = 4.0 . . . . . . . . . . . 32
3.2 DOS and density of current carrying states for systems with L = 10 – 40 and
W = 8.0 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
3.3 Percentage of current carrying states vs system size L for W = 8.0 . . . . . . 34
3.4 DOS and Thouless number for systems with L = 40 – 80 and W = 8.0 . . . . 34
3.5 Area of Thouless number vs system size for different cutoff energy E
cut
and
W = 8.0 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
vii
3.6 DOS and Thouless number for systems with L = 40 – 80 and W = 9.0 . . . . 38
3.7 DOS and Thouless number for systems with L = 40 – 80 and W = 10.0 . . . 38
3.8 DOS and Thouless number for systems with L = 20 – 40 and W = 15.0 . . . 39
4.1 Contours of equal pairing potential for an s-wave superconductor under
Zeeman field at zero temperature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
4.2 Same as Fig. 4.1 except that it is now for a d-wave superconductor with q
along the antinodal direction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
4.3 Same as Fig. 4.2 except that q is here along the nodal direction . . . . . . . 45
4.4 Qualitative sketch of the phase diagram of an s-wave superconductor under a
Zeeman field . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
4.5 Qualitative sketch of the phase diagram of a d-wave superconductor under a
Zeeman field . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
4.6 Representative electron DOS for various Zeeman fields and both s- and d-wave
superconductors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
5.1 Schematic diagram of dispersion relations on the two sides of an NSJ . . . . 52
5.2 The normalized conductance vs voltage for normal-metal/s-wave FF super-
conductor junction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
5.3 Same as Fig. 5.2 except it is now for normal-metal/d-wave FF superconductor
junction with (100) contact . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
5.4 Same as Fig. 5.2 except it is now for normal-metal/d-wave FF superconductor
junction with (110) contact . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
5.5 The normalized conductance and its two spin components at a large z = 5.0 60
5.6 The normalized conductance vs voltage for the competing uniform BCS states 61
5.7 Comparison of the high-z junction conductance with the un-weighted and
cos
2
θ-weighted DOS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
5.8 The bias voltage difference of the tunneling conductance peak and the dip at
large z(=20) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64
viii
ABSTRACT
This dissertation investigates the transport properties of unconventional superconductors
which differ from the conventional superconductors on two aspects, one is the pairing
symmetry of the order parameter, the other is the net momentum of the Cooper pair. The
former ones are discovered in high-T
c
cuprates, heavy-fermion, Sr
2
RuO
4
and so on. The
latter ones can be realized by splitting the Fermi surfaces of spin-up and -down electrons
under Zeeman field and are known as the Fulde-Ferrell-Larkin-Ovchinnikov (FFLO) states.
This work is consisted of two parts.
In the first part, we present results of numerical studies of spin quantum Hall transitions
in disordered superconductors, in which the pairing order parameter breaks time-reversal
symmetry. We focus mainly on p-wave superconductors in which one of the spin components
is conserved. The transport properties of the system are studied by numerically diagonalizing
pairing Hamiltonians on a lattice, and by calculating the Chern and Thouless numbers of the
quasiparticle states. We find that in the presence of disorder, (spin-)current carrying states
exist only at discrete critical energies in the thermodynamic limit, and the spin-quantum
Hall transition driven by an external Zeeman field has the same critical behavior as the usual
integer quantum Hall transition of non-interacting electrons. These critical energies merge
and disappear as disorder strength increases, in a manner similar to those in lattice models
for integer quantum Hall transition.
The second part is a proposal of identifying the FFLO state based on its transport
properties in the normal metal/superconductor junction (NSJ). The FFLO state has received
renewed interest recently due to the experimental indication of its presence in CeCoIn
5
, a
quasi 2-dimensional (2D) d-wave superconductor. However direct evidence of the spatial
variation of the superconducting order parameter, which is the hallmark of the FFLO state,
ix
does not yet exist. In this work we examine the possibility of detecting the phase structure
of the order parameter directly using conductance spectroscopy through NSJ, which probes
the phase sensitive surface Andreev bound states of d-wave superconductors. We employ the
Blonder-Tinkham-Klapwijk formalism to calculate the conductance characteristics between
a normal metal and a 2D s- or d
x
2
−y
2-wave superconductor in the Fulde-Ferrell state, for all
barrier parameter z from the point contact limit (z = 0) to the tunneling limit (z ¸1). We
find that the zero-bias conductance peak due to these surface Andreev bound states observed
in the uniform d-wave superconductor is split and shifted in the Fulde-Ferrell state. We also
clarify what weighted bulk density of states is measured by the conductance in the limit of
large z.
x
CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
In 1957, Bardeen, Cooper and Schrieffer (BCS) [1] published their famous paper of the
microscopic theory of the superconductivity. In their theory, when the temperature drops
below a critical value (T
c
), the phonon-mediated electron-electron interaction leads to the
formation of Cooper pair. Since this interaction is almost isotropic, the pair state has zero
orbital momentum (s-wave symmetry) and is a spin-singlet. This theory also explains the
energy gap ∆ existed in the superconductivity state which is the pairing potential. The kind
of superconductors described by the BCS theory are called conventional superconductors.
In an earlier time (1950), Ginzburg and Landau [2] developed the phenomenological theory
of the superconductivity based on the Landau theory of the second-order phase transitions.
In their theory, the order parameter Ψ(r) is used to represent the extent of the macroscopic
phase coherence in the superconducting state. The link between the Ginzburg-Landau
theory and the BCS theory was established by Gor’kov [3]. In the vicinity of T
c
, the
Ginzburg-Landau equations could be derived from the BCS theory and the order parameter
is proportional to the pairing potential.
Since the discovery of the high-temperature superconductors in 1986 [4], the internal
structure of the Cooper pairs in the high-T
c
superconductors became an active topic in
the condensed matter physics. After years of debate and the phase-sensitive experiments
recently, it is now believed that the pairing symmetry in the high-T
c
cuprates is d-wave
type. Besides the cuprates, more exotic superconductors are discovered in the past two
decades, such as heavy-fermion and organic superconductors, and Sr
2
RuO
4
. For many of
these superconductors, the pairing symmetry is no longer s-wave type and they are known
as unconventional superconductors.
To understand the nature of the unconventional superconductors better, we will give a
1
brief discussion of the symmetry in the superconducting states. As we know from the Landau
theory, the symmetry breaking is often accompanied with a phase transition, which means
when the system undergoes a phase transition by external force or environmental change,
some symmetries possessed by the system before can be lost. For the second-order phase
transition, the symmetry breaking across the transition is continuous and thus the symmetry
group after breaking will be a subgroup of the full symmetry group. In our case here, the
full symmetry group ( is the one describing the normal state,
( = GR U(1) T , (1.1)
where G is the point group symmetry of the crystal lattice, R is the symmetry of spin
rotation, U(1) is the one-dimensional global gauge symmetry, and T is the time-reversal
symmetry. The U(1) symmetry is broken spontaneously by the phase coherence in the
superconducting state, and experimentally we get Meissner effect, flux quantization and so
on. In a conventional superconductor, symmetries other than U(1) are kept, but this is
not the case of unconventional superconductors. By determination of the type of symmetry
breaking besides U(1), we can thus classify the unconventional superconductors and this is
also reflected in the symmetry properties of the order parameter.
A simple classification of the superconductors can be made based on the parity of the
pair state (concerning the space inversion symmetry). Since in the superconducting state,
the electrons need to pair up to form bosons whose total spin (S) is an integer, we thus have
the spin-singlet (S = 0) with even parity or the spin-triplet (S = 1) with odd parity. When
S is fixed, the total orbital angular momentum (L) of the Cooper pair is also restrained by
the Pauli principle. For spin-singlet, L could only be an even integer, while for spin-triplet,
L should be an odd integer. In conventional superconductors, both S and L are zero and
the pairing is known as s-wave in analogy of atomic orbitals. Although we are not quite
clear about the pairing mechanism in the unconventional superconductors, experiments have
found that the paring in the high-T
c
cuprate has d-wave symmetry (S = 0 and L = 2) [5, 6],
and Sr
2
RuO
4
favors the p-wave symmetry (S = 1 and L = 1) [7, 8].
In addition to the experimental relevance, unconventional, disordered superconductors
are also of great interest for theoretical reasons, as they represent new symmetry classes
in disordered non-interacting fermion problems that are not realized in metals. In dirty
superconductors, the translational symmetry is broken and the momentum k of a single
2
Table 1.1: Symmetry classes of dirty superconductors. (Refer to Ref. [10])
Class Time-reversal Spin-rotation
D No No
C No Yes
DIII Yes No
CI Yes Yes
particle is no longer a good quantum number. The plan-wave eigenfunctions with momentum
k, which are used to form the Cooper pair in the original BCS theory, should be replaced by
position-dependent functions and pairing is between time-reversed states. To find these
functions, we need to set up equations for them. This is achieved by generalizing the
Hartree-Fock equations to include the pairing potential of the superconducting state. The
resulted equations are called Bogoliubov-de Gennes (BdG) equations [9]. These equations
are widely applied to more general situations with order parameter varied in space (such as
the normal metal/superconductor junction discussed later). Since the elementary excitation
(quasiparticle) of superconductors can be viewed as destroying a Cooper pair from the
condensate and creating an electron in the vacancy, the BdG equations are readily used
to describe the bahavior of the quasiparticles in the superconductors. In the meantime the
properties of the dirty superconductor and its classification will be determined by the BdG
equations, through which pairing symmetry is reflected. A classification of the symmetry
classes in dirty superconductors have been advanced recently [10, 11]. Depending on the
existence (or the lack) of time-reversal and spin-rotation symmetries, dirty superconductors
can be classified into four symmetry classes, CI, DIII, C, and D in Cartan’s classification
scheme (Table 1.1). These classes are believed to complete the possible universality
classes [12] in disordered single-particle systems [10, 11].
By now we have only discussed the cases of pairing state in rest (called BCS state below)
and thus the pair has a total momentum of zero. The situation will be changed when we
turn on the Zeeman field (H) and split the Fermi surfaces of the spin-up and -down electrons
apart, which leads to an imbalance of the two electron species (fermions). In this case, we
have the BCS state, the spin polarized state (normal state), and possibly more states to
compete for the ground state. Due to the imbalance of the two electron species, a portion
3
of the Cooper pairs will be broken. We begin with a small portion that the energy gap (∆
0
)
is not affected
1
. Accordingly, we gain an energy of 2H from the new spin orientation at
a cost of 2∆
0
in breaking a Cooper pair and move toward the spin polarized state. If we
continually increase the number of the broken Cooper pairs, we need H to be larger than

0
to make the spin polarized state eventually energy favored over the BCS state. But,
in fact, the spin polarized state already has a lower energy when H = 1/

2∆
0
and this
limit is called “Pauli limit” [13, 14]. Thus the BCS state with large portion of Cooper pairs
broken is not what we are looking for but an alternative solution is deserved for the ground
state. In the opposite side of the above process, because the Cooper pairs contributing to
the superconducting state mostly are those around the Fermi surface (before the splitting),
we need to boost a spin-up electron to higher kinetic energy so as to pair with the spin-down
electron with opposite momentum [Fig. 1.1(a)]. Again, we find that such Cooper pairs are
not energy favored when more kinetic energy is required (H > ∆
0
). Thus it is suggested by
Fulde and Ferrell [15], and Larkin and Ovchinnikov [16] that pairing electrons of opposite
spins located close to their own Fermi surfaces may lower the energy [Fig. 1.1(b)]. Since
the paired electrons have different momenta (k

and k

), there will be a net momentum
2q = k

− k

in the Cooper pair and it causes the oscillation of the order parameter. This
state is now known as the Fulde-Ferrell-Larkin-Ovchinnikov (FFLO) state
2
. It breaks both
translation and rotation symmetries.
Though the FFLO state was studied theoretically in an earlier time, lack of experimental
support in the conventional superconductors makes it overlooked for a long time. The
situation has been changed by experimental results suggestive of the FFLO state in heavy-
fermion, quasi-1D organic, or high-T
c
superconductors [17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25].
Recent experimental results in CeCoIn
5
, a quasi-2D d-wave superconductor, are particularly
encouraging [26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32]. This subject is also of interest to the nuclear
and particle physics communities because of the possible realization of the FFLO state
in high density quark matter and nuclear matter [33], as well as in cold fermionic atom
systems [34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41]. On the theory side, more suggestions dealing with
the pairing between unbalanced fermions are also proposed, such as the deformed Fermi
1
Here, we consider the s-wave symmetry for simplicity.
2
More precisely, FF considered the pairing state with only a single momentum q, while LO suggested a
superposition of a series of finite-momentum states.
4
(a) (b)
Figure 1.1: Schematic illustration of the Fermi surfaces of spin-up (dash-dotted) and -down
(dashed) electrons in the momentum space for a superconductor under Zeeman field. The
split from the one (dotted) without Zeeman field is exaggerated to illuminate our argument.
In the BCS state (a), the paired electrons have equal and opposite momenta (k and −k),
while in the FFLO state (b), they are located close to their own Fermi surfaces, resulting a
net momentum 2q = k

−k

.
surface pairing [42, 43, 44] and the breached pairing states [34, 45, 46]. To classify and
discuss the relation between these different phases, more classification schemes beyond the
Landau theory are necessary and this will serve to enhance our understanding of the quantum
phases and the phase transitions [41, 47, 48, 49].
Besides the pairing symmetry in the unconventional superconductors is “unconventional”,
the transport properties of the quasi-particles in these superconductors also behave dif-
ferently from the conventional superconductors. There are two kinds of objects in the
superconductor contributing to its transport properties, one is the Cooper pair (condensate),
the other is the quasiparticle. The Cooper pair condensate has no entropy, and its z-
component spin is zero because it is a pair of spin-up and -down electrons. Thus it determines
the charge current properties but does not carry thermal flow or spin current. The latter
two types of flow will be transmitted by the quasiparticles instead. In this way, we can
find different transport properties stemed from the difference of the pairing symmetry. For
example, in the s-wave superconductor, we have a non-zero energy gap ∆ and in order to get
the excited states, it needs to absorb an energy of 2∆ to break the Cooper pair. But for the
d
x
2
−y
2-wave superconductor, it supports gapless nodal quasi-particle excitations and these
5
nodal quasi-particles dominate heat and spin transport at low temperatures. The anisotropic
character of the d-wave pairing also makes difference in the tunneling behavior of the normal
metal/superconductor junctions, which results the zero-bias conductance peak and is used
as a phase-sensitive experiment to detect the d-wave symmetry.
Another interesting difference comes from the disordered superconductors of class C
and D, which break the time-reversal symmetry. For system of class C, the spin-rotation
symmetry is preserved and therefore allows us to consider about the spin current rather than
the charge current. Because of the time-reversal symmetry breaking, it is naturally expected
the Hall conductance of the spin current to be quantized in analogy to the conventional
quantum Hall effect. This effect is called spin quantum Hall effect. This effect can also be
realized in system of class D when the spin-rotation symmetry is not destroyed completely,
such as the p
x
+ ip
y
pairing (S = 1, S
z
= 0) which will be studied in our work. In the
following two sections, we will discuss more details of the spin quantum Hall effect and the
tunneling conductance which comprise the main topics of this thesis.
1.1 Spin quantum Hall effect
The spin Hall effect that will be discussed in this work is induced by the gradient of a
Zeeman field that couples to spin. With the conservation of the z-component spin in the
Hamiltonian, we can make an analogy to the usual Hall effect. This is different from the
spin Hall effect in semiconductors with spin-orbit coupling, which is driven by an electric
field [50, 51]. There, the spin Hall effect is due to the presence of spin-orbit coupling.
The integer quantum Hall effect (IQHE) was first observed by von Klitzing et al. [52]
in 1980, indicating that the Hall conductance σ
xy
of a quasi-two-dimensional electron gas is
quantized to be an integer multiple of e
2
/h while the longitudinal conductance σ
xx
vanishes
at the same time, when the system is subject to a strong magnetic field in low temperature.
This quantization survives over a finite range of physical parameters such as the magnetic
field or the carrier concentration, and it is independent of the macroscopic or microscopic
details. This phenomenon, along with its fractional sibling discovered later, is credited
significance commensurable with superconductivity in condensed matter theory.
As we know from the classical theory, when the system size L is much larger than the
mean free path, the conductance g(L) (a macroscopic quantity) is related to the conductivity
6
σ (a microscopic quantity) by the Ohm’s law,
g(L) = σL
d−2
, (1.2)
where d is the dimension of the system. From this formula we can see that the two-
dimensional system is a special case that its conductance is independent of the system
size. When taking into account the disorder effect, the scaling theory shows that for a
two-dimensional system at large length scale, even a weak microscopic disorder will drive
the electronic states to be localized. This weak localization could be understood by the
quantum interference effect. In the presence of time-reversal symmetry, there are pairs
of time-reversed paths which start and return to the same point. The two paths of such
pair have the same phase and increase the probability for an electron to return its initial
point. Hence the probability of diffusion away is reduced. Paradoxically, the quantum Hall
effect relies on the disorder to destroy the translational invariance, because we can only
get the classical Hall effect otherwise. Fortunately, the magnetic field required in the Hall
effect will break the time-reversal symmetry and the localization properties of the system is
consequently altered.
From quantum mechanics, we know that the 2D electron system under magnetic field is
described by a series of discretized Landau levels (LL). In the presence of disorder the LL will
be broadened into a band, and in large magnetic field limit, there will be no overlapping of
these bands (Fig. 1.2). For each band, only states with energy in the center of the band are
extended states while the states with all other energies are localized. In the noninteracting
limit and by a gauge argument under the situation as shown in Fig. 1.3(a), Laughlin [53] and
Halperin [54] showed that the Hall conductance takes its quantized value νe
2
/h while the
longitudinal conductance σ
xx
= 0, when the Fermi level lies in the region of localized states
(mobility gap or energy gap). Here the filling factor ν, defined as the ratio of the number of
electrons over the number of flux quanta penetrating the sample ν = N/N
Φ
, is the number
of LL occupied and thus an integer. Changes of the Fermi level in the mobility gap do not
alter the Hall conductance σ
xy
. When the Fermi level moves across the extended state, the
Hall conductance will change by an integer. This explains the step observed in the IQHE.
It is worth noticing the similarity between the quantized Hall effect and the quantized flux
trapped in a superconducting ring [Fig. 1.3(b)] [55, 56], both of which are a consequence of
the gauge invariance.
7
(a)
(b)
Figure 1.2: Density of states of the 2D electron gas under magnetic field: (a) without
disorder, (b) with disorder (schematic). With disorder, states are localized at energies other
than the center of each band.
(a) (b)
Figure 1.3: (a) Diagram of metallic loop used in Laughlin’s argument; (b) Large supercon-
ductor ring. The magnetic flux trapped in the ring is quantized.
8
So far we have described the physical background of the IQHE. Now we will discuss
the approaches to study the transport properties (localization) in the quantum Hall regime.
One approach that we adopt in this work is first inspired by Thouless et al. [57, 58] in
their topological explanation of the IQHE. They argued that for a state in the mobility
gap, the Hall conductance will be insensitive to the boundary conditions. Therefore, the
conductance can be averaged over the boundary phases and this averaged quantity is proved
to be 2π times an integer, C
1
(m), the first Chern index, which characterizes the topological
properties of the wave functions. Besides, Arovas et al. [59] showed that for states with
finite C
1
(m), the zeros of the wave functions can be moved to any position in real space
by replacing the boundary phases, while states with zero C
1
(m) cannot. This gives us an
efficient criteria to distinguish extended states from localized states unambiguously, even in
a finite-size system. The Chern number method has been very successful in the studies of
quantum Hall transitions, for both integral [60, 61, 62, 63] and fractional effects [64], and
also in other contexts [65, 66, 67, 68].
From the discussion above, we can see that the sensitivity of the wave functions to
the boundary conditions plays an essential role in separating extended states from localized
states. Historically, Edwards and Thouless [69] have argued in an earlier time (1972) that the
sensitivity of the eigenenergies of finite systems to changes in the boundary conditions can
be used to make the separation in the same spirit as Hall conductance [70]. More precisely,
it is shown in the second-order perturbation theory that the longitudinal conductivity σ
xx
is
approximately related to the average energy level shift ¸[δE[) when the boundary condition
changes from periodic to anti-periodic in one direction by [71]
σ
xx
=
e
2
h
¸[δE[)
∆E

e
2
h
g
T
(E). (1.3)
Here, ∆E is the average energy level spacing at the Fermi energy; g
T
(E) is called the Thouless
number. Since both Chern number and Thouless number are size dependent and thus can
be used as finite-size scaling quantities in the study of localization properties.
Moving back to our study in unconventional superconductors, the possibility of spin (or
thermal) quantum Hall states, as pointed out previously, allows us to draw a close analogy
between the quantum Hall effect and superconductivity. At the same time we can also employ
the numerical methods developed in the study of the IQHE to our problem. In this work, we
report results of numerical studies on a lattice model of disordered p-wave superconductors
9
with p
x
+ip
y
pairing, which conserves the z-component of electron spin. As we will show later,
this is an example of the class D model, and in certain sense the simplest model that supports
a spin quantum Hall phase. We study the localization properties of the quasiparticle states
by calculating the Chern and Thouless numbers of the individual states, in ways similar to
the corresponding studies in the quantum Hall context mentioned above. Physically, the
Chern and Thouless numbers correspond to the Hall and longitudinal spin conductivities in
the present context, respectively, which are also related to the Hall and longitudinal thermal
conductivities. We note that while it has been pointed out earlier that quasiparticle bands
or individual quasiparticle states can be labeled by their topological Chern numbers[72], the
present work represents the first attempt to calculate them numerically and use them to
study the localization properties of the quasiparticle states in the context of unconventional
superconductors.
Our main findings are summarized as the following. We find that the p-wave model
we study supports an insulating phase and a spin quantum Hall phase with spin Hall
conductance one in appropriate unit. For relatively weak disorder, there exist two critical
energies at which current-carrying states exist, carrying a total Chern number (or spin Hall
conductance in proper unit) +1 and −1, respectively; they are responsible for the spin
quantum Hall phase. Phase transitions between these two phases may be induced either by
changing the disorder strength, or by applying and sweeping a Zeeman field. The field-driven
transition is found to have the same critical behavior as the integer quantum Hall transition
of non-interacting electrons. As disorder strength increases the two critical energies both
move toward E = 0, and annihilate at certain critical disorder strength, resulting in an
insulating phase in which all quasiparticle states are localized. No metallic phase is found
in our model.
1.2 Andreev reflections and tunneling spectroscopy
The Andreev reflection was first introduced by de Gennes and Saint-James in 1963 [73, 74,
75], and was applied to explain the increase of the thermal resistance in the intermediate
state of type-I superconductor successfully by Andreev [76] in 1964. When an electron
(with momentum k) moves in a normal metal (N) toward a superconductor (S), it can be
reflected back with equal momentum (−k) to the normal metal as a hole at the interface.
This is the Andreev reflection, different from the usual specular reflection (Fig. 1.4). This
10
(a) (b)
Figure 1.4: Schematic drawing of the Andreev reflection (a) and the normal specular
reflection (b). In the Andreev reflection, the incident electron (solid line) is reflected back
as hole (dashed line) with the same momentum.
effect is especially apparent when the incoming electrons have energies below the gap. In
such situation, the electrons cannot enter the superconductor side as quasiparticles because
there are no quasiparticles in the gap. But, by Andreev reflection, they can traverse the
interface and decay into Cooper pair condensate, because there are holes reflected back
which are equivalent as “additional” charge current (i.e. pairs of 2e across the interface).
Consequently, the Andreev reflection enhances the electrical conductivity of N/S contacts in
the gap. For the thermal transport considered by Andreev, the holes reflected at the domain
walls of the intermediate state will resist the thermal flow and thus explain why the thermal
resistance is higher than in the Meissner state (in which the magnetic field is expelled out).
Unfortunately, the enhancement of the electrical conductivity was less appreciated than the
depression of thermal transport until Zaitsev [77] calculated the enhanced conductance in
1980 and Blonder, Tinkham, and Klapwijk (BTK) [78] gave a complete discussion of this
subject in 1982.
The above discussion of effects of the Andreev reflection on the conductivity of N/S
contacts is only about the conventional superconductor, and the enhancement of conductivity
at bias below the gap is used to measure the gap experimentally. But in high-T
c
cuprate,
there exist gapless quasiparticles. Therefore the argument need to be deliberated again. In
1994, Hu [79] considered the situation that a normal metal slab of thickness d
N
(much smaller
than the mean free path) in contact with a semi-infinite d
x
2
−y
2-superconductor (Fig. 1.5),
which is similar to the situation considered by Saint-James [74]. As illustrated in Fig. 1.5,
there are two successive Andreev reflections in the normal slab. When the contact interface
is along the nodal line, the two Andreev reflections will experience a phase difference π of the
11
Figure 1.5: Schematic illustration of the formation of the Andreev bound states in the
structure of a d-wave superconductor coated with a normal metal layer. Two successive
Andreev reflections occur in the normal metal slab and they experience phase change of the
order parameter when the interface is along the nodal line.
order parameter. This causes a zero-energy Andreev bound states (ABSs) (also called the
midgap surface states) to be formed in the metal slab. Hu also proved that this bound states
exist in the limit of d
N
→0. However, since the ABSs are a consequence of the phase change
of the order parameter, they will persist when the interface is not exactly along the nodal
line, but vanish when the interface is along the antinodal line. Subsequent work showed
that the ABSs will be modified by the presence of an imaginary component in the order
parameter, such as the d
x
2
−y
2 + is and d
x
2
−y
2 + id
xy
symmetries [80]. These features of the
ABSs make it a powerful tool in detecting the order parameter symmetry of unconventional
superconductors [81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87].
To make the ABSs measurable experimentally, we will calculate the differential con-
ductance [G(V ) ≡ dI(V )/dV ] characteristics of a normal metal/superconductor junction
(NSJ). For a general treatment of the interface type, from transparent contact limit to
the strong tunneling limit, BTK used a δ-function barrier of strength z (from 0 to ∞) to
model the interface. When an incident electron with energy E comes to the barrier, it is
Andreev and specular reflected as hole and electron with probabilities of A(−E) and B(E)
3
,
3
Actually, E is the energy of a particle relative to the Fermi surface, thus for the hole in the metal, the
12
respectively, and is transmitted into the superconductor as eletron- and hole-like quasiparticle
with probabilities of C(E) and D(E), respectively. This process is illustrated in Fig. 1.6
4
.
By solving the Bogoliubov-de Gennes equations and matching the boundary conditions at
the barrier, we can calculate the four probabilities. Then, the differential conductance of a
single channel in 1D can be derived from the Landauer-B¨ uttiker formula [88, 89]
G(E = eV ) = −
2e
2
h
_
dE [1 −A(−E) + B(E)]
∂f
∂E
, (1.4)
where f is the Fermi function. The result of the s-wave case in the original BTK paper is
shown in Fig. 1.7. There, we can easily see the enhanced conductivity at bias below the
gap in the contact limit (z = 0), which is discussed previously. The BTK theory was later
generalized to the 2D d-wave case with a result shown in Fig. 1.8 [90]. In the tunneling limit
(z = ∞), we find a peak at the zero-bias [called zero-bias conductance peak (ZBCP)] when
the interface is off the antinodal line of the d
x
2
−y
2-wave order parameter, which is the badge
of the ABSs. The quantitative fit of experimental data (e.g. see Fig. 1.9 from Ref. [83]) with
the BTK theory also encourages us to believe that the fermionic description of excitations
by BdG equations is appropriate for high-T
c
superconductors.
Since the ABSs are consequences of the phase change of the d-wave order parameter,
their spectra should also be sensitive to the spatial variation of the order parameter. This
inspired us to propose the possibility of using the phase-sensitive experiment based on ABSs
to detect the FFLO phase in the d-wave superconductors. In this work, we will show this
sensitivity by explicit calculations of the conductance characteristics, and from their spectra
detected via conductance spectroscopy through a micro-constriction, one can extract the
momentum of the superconducting order parameter. As we will show below, for a d
x
2
−y
2-
wave superconductor in the FF state, the ZBCP observed in a (110) contact is split and
shifted by both the Zeeman field and pair momentum; the latter can be determined from
the splitting.
The remainder of this thesis is organized as the following. In Chapter 2 we first provide a
brief review of the mean field thoery describing superconductivity in the lattice model as well
as the classification of the unconventional and dirty superconductors. Chapter 3 is devoted to
the spin quantum Hall transitions in p
x
+ip
y
-wave superconductors. There, we first describe
allowed transition is at −E instead of E.
4
It is shown in a more general 2D model instead of the 1D model in BTK for illustration purpose.
13
Figure 1.6: Schematic demonstration of the processes occured when an electron falls onto
the interface of a normal metal/superconductor junction. The electron is reflected as electron
and hole by specular and Andreev reflections, respectively, and is transimited into the
superconductor as electron- and hole-like quasiparticles.
Figure 1.7: The normalized differential conductance vs voltage for a normal metal/s-wave
superconductor junction with various barrier strength z at T = 0. (From Ref. [78])
14
Figure 1.8: The normalized differential conductance [σ(E)] vs voltage (E) for a normal
metal/d
x
2
−y
2-wave superconductor junction. α is the angle between the antinodal line of the
order parameter and the interface of the junction: (a) α = 0, (b) α = π/8, (c) α = π/4. A,
z = 0; B, z = 1; C, z = 5; D, the electron density of states in the superconductor. (From
Ref. [90])
the application of Chern and Thouless number methods to our problem and then present
our numerical results and the analysis of the data obtained. Chapters 4 and 5 deal with the
FFLO superconductors, mainly in FF state. In Chapter 4, we calculate the self-consistent
mean field solutions for both s- and d
x
2
−y
2-wave superconductors under Zeeman field and
identify the FF phase. Some properties of the FF state, such as the density of states and the
current in the superconductor, are discussed. In Chapter 5 we give the scheme to calculate
the conductance characteristics of the NSJ (BTK theory and its generalization), along with
the numerical results of both s- and d
x
2
−y
2 cases. Further discussion of their relation with
the DOS and ABSs are followed. Finally, this work is summarized in Chapter 6.
15
Figure 1.9: The normalized conductance spectra taken on the ¦110¦ crystal face of YBCO
with a Pt-Ir tip at 4.2K. Main panel is for an STM tunnel junction. Left inset is for a
point-contact junction. The data are given as open circles and the d-wave fits by the solid
curves. Right inset gives the mixed symmetry simulations for the tunnel junction. (From
Ref. [83])
16
CHAPTER 2
UNCONVENTIONAL SUPERCONDUCTORS
Superconductivity is widely discussed in both continuum and lattice models. The lattice
model, originally the tight-binding model, was introduced by Anderson [91] (1958) to analyse
the localization, and later was developed into more intriguing models, such as the Hubbard
model in studying the metal-insulator transition [92], and its descendant, the t-J model,
applied to the theory of high-T
c
cuprates [93, 94]. In our work, we will not get into the
profound physics behind the Hubbard model, but use a simplified one to investigate the
physics we are interested in. In this chapter, we will start from the one-band Hubbard
model and obtain the mean field description in analogy of the continuum model [9]. Then,
a discussion of the pairing symmetries in the unconventional superconductors based on our
model will be followed.
2.1 Hubbard model
The s-wave superconductor on a 2D square lattice can be described by the attractive Hubbard
model, and the Hamiltonian is given by
H = −t

<i,j>σ
c


c

−µ


ˆ n

−U

i
ˆ n
i↑
ˆ n
i↓
. (2.1)
Here, i and j are site labels and the angle bracket means nearest-neighbor, t is the hopping
term and will be taken as the unit of the energy in our numerical calculations (t = 1),
ˆ n

= c


c

is the on-site particle number operator, µ is the chemical potential, and U > 0 is
the attractive interaction. The lattice spacing is taken to be 1. To obtain the self-consistent
description of the model, we notice from the Wick’s theorem that
¸ˆ n
i↑
ˆ n
i↓
) = ¸c

i↑
c
i↑
c

i↓
c
i↓
)
= ¸c

i↑
c
i↑
)¸c

i↓
c
i↓
) +¸c

i↑
c

i↓
)¸c
i↓
c
i↑
) −¸c

i↑
c
i↓
)¸c

i↓
c
i↑
). (2.2)
17
The first term corresponds to the Hartree shift and can be incorporated into the chemical
potential when it is site-independent
1
, the second term yields the order parameter ∆, and
the third term is zero under the assumption of no magnetic moment. Therefore, by the
variational principle, we find the effective (or called mean field) Hamiltonian
H
m
=

ijσ
H
ij
c


c

+

i
(∆
i
c

i↑
c

i↓
+ ∆

i
c
i↓
c
i↑
), (2.3)
where H
ij
= −tδ
i±1,j
−µδ
ij
, and ∆
i
= −U¸c
i↓
c
i↑
) is the order parameter (or pair potential).
It is interesting to notice that, with µ →−µ, the mean field Hamiltonian (2.3) is symmetric
under the particle-hole transformation
c

→e
iσπ·x
i
c


, (2.4)
where π = (π, π) and x
i
is the position of site i, while this symmetry is absence in the
Hamiltonian (2.1). This is due to the omission of the Hartree shift term.
In order to diagonalize the mean field Hamiltonian (2.3) to be of the form
H
m
= E
g
+

n
E
n
γ

n
γ
n
, (2.5)
where E
g
and E
n
are the ground state and the excitation energies, respectively, we will use
the Bogoliubov-Valatin transformation
c

=

n
(u
n

γ
n
−σv
n∗

γ

n
). (2.6)
By calculating [H
m
, c

] in the same way as in Ref. [9], we finally derive the Bogoliubov-de
Gennes (BdG) equations
2

j
_
H
ij

ij


ji
−H
ji
__
u
n

v
n
j¯ σ
_
= E
n
_
u
n

v
n
i¯ σ
_
, (2.7)
where ∆
ij
= ∆
ji
= ∆
i
δ
ij
for the s-wave superconductor. The BdG equations are especially
useful in studying the behavior of the quasiparticles in the superconductors with order
1
In the presence of disorder, this term will be site-dependent and its effect is discussed in Ref. [95]. In
our work, we will neglect this term.
2
The formulas adopted here is based on the consideration of including spin-dependent potential, which
is the case of the FFLO state discussed later. The spin index is implied, i.e. the vector (u
n

, v
n
j¯ σ
)
T
is in fact
of a dimension of 4N, where N is the number of the lattice sites.
18
parameter varing in space and its application in continuum model can be found in Ref. [9].
In order to calculate physical quantities, we need to know the normalization condition of the
wave functions. By calculating ¦c

, c

¦ = δ
ij
δ
σσ
, it is obtained as the following:

n
(u
n

u
n∗

+ σσ

v
n

v
n∗

) = δ
ij
δ
σσ
, (2.8)
which is equivalent to


(u
m

u
n∗

+ v
m
i¯ σ
v
n∗
i¯ σ
) = δ
mn
. (2.9)
The self-consistent condition of the order parameter is consequently expressed as

i
= −U

n
[u
n
i↑
v
n∗
i↓
f(E
n
) −u
n
i↓
v
n∗
i↑
f(−E
n
)], (2.10)
where f is the Fermi function given by
f(E) =
1
1 + e
βE
. (2.11)
The free energy of the system in the superconducting state is evaluated to be
¸H) =

ijσ
H
ij
¸c


c

) −
1
U

i
[∆
i
[
2
=

n
E
n
[f(E
n
) −


[v
n

[
2
] +
1
U

i
[∆
i
[
2
. (2.12)
In the limit of zero temperature T = 0, the Fermi function will be replaced by a step function.
2.2 Pairing symmetry in unconventional
superconductors
In the last section, we considered a model with only the on-site interation U and it could
be generalized to include the nearest-neighbor interaction. In this section, we will consider
this case and discuss the new pairing from the added interaction. In the lattice model, the
Hamiltonian is written as
H = −t

<i,j>σ
c


c

−µ


ˆ n

−U

i
ˆ n
i↑
ˆ n
i↓

V
2

<i,j>σσ

ˆ n

ˆ n

, (2.13)
where V is the nearest-neighbor interaction. Using the same trick (2.2) and neglecting the
Hartree shift, we find the the mean field Hamiltonian to be
H
m
=

ijσ
H
ij
c


c

+

i
(∆
i
c

i↑
c

i↓
+ ∆

i
c
i↓
c
i↑
) +

<i,j>
(∆
ij
c

i↑
c

j↓
+ ∆

ij
c
j↓
c
i↑
), (2.14)
19
where ∆
ij
= −V ¸c
j↓
c
i↑
). By choosing different parameters (U and V ), the self-consistent
solutions will yield different types of unconventional pairing symmetries in the superconduc-
tors, e.g. we can find d-wave symmetry with U < 0 and V > 0 [96]. This problem itself is so
attractive that deserve independent examination. In our work, our interest is to investigate
the behaviors of the quasiparticles resulting from different pairing symmetries and it will
only distract our focus to take into account the self-consistent calculations. Hereinafter, we
will assume the form of the pairing symmetry and use the reduced mean field Hamiltonian
3
,
H =

ijσ
H
ij
c


c

+

<i,j>
(∆
ij
c

i↑
c

j↓
+ ∆

ij
c
j↓
c
i↑
), (2.15)
to study the unconventional superconductors. The BdG equations for the quasiparticles are
given by

j
_
H
ij

ij


ji
−H

ij
__
u
n
j↑
v
n
j↓
_
= E
n
_
u
n
i↑
v
n
i↓
_
, (2.16a)

j
_
H
ij

ji


ij
−H

ij
__
u
n
j↓
v
n
j↑
_
= E
n
_
u
n
i↓
v
n
i↑
_
. (2.16b)
For illustration purpose, we will give some examples of the pairing symmetries in the
unconventional superconductors, such as,
• d
x
2
−y
2 pairing (abbr. as d-wave): ∆
j,j±ex
= −∆
j,j±ey
= ∆,
• d
x
2
−y
2 + id
xy
pairing (d + id-wave): ∆
j,j±ex
= −∆
j,j±ey
= ∆
x
2
−y
2, ∆
j,j+ex±ey
=

j,j−ex∓ey
= ±i∆
xy
,
• p
x
+ ip
y
pairing (p-wave): ∆
j,j±ex
= ±∆, ∆
j,j±ey
= ±i∆,
where e
x
and e
y
are unit vectors along the x and y axis, respectively. They are schematically
shown in Fig. 2.1 along with the conventional s-wave symmetry. In order to solve the
spectra of these superconductors in the lattice model, we take the size of the lattice to be
finite (L
x
L
y
) and put periodic boundary condition on the lattice
c
j+L
i

= c
j,σ
, i = x, y. (2.17)
3
We also omit the subscript ‘m’ standing for “mean field”.
20
Figure 2.1: Schematic illustration of the pairing symmetries in unconventional supercon-
ductors defined in Sec. 2.2, along with the s-wave superconductor. In d +id-wave, we use ∆
for ∆
x
2
−y
2 and ∆

for ∆
xy
.
Instead of consulting to the BdG equations (2.16), we will diagonalize the Hamiltonian (2.15)
in the momentum space directly. With the Fourier transformations
c
j↑
=
1
_
L
x
L
y

k
e
ik·x
j
c
k↑
, (2.18a)
c
j↓
=
1
_
L
x
L
y

k
e
−ik·x
j
c
k↓
, (2.18b)
we obtain the Hamiltonian
H =


ε
k
c


c

+

k
(∆
k
c

k↑
c

k↓
+ ∆

k
c
k↓
c
k↑
), (2.19)
where ε
k
= −2t(cos k
x
+ cos k
y
) − µ is the single-particle kinetic energy and the order
parameter ∆
k
is given by

k
=
_
¸
¸
¸
_
¸
¸
¸
_
2∆(cos k
x
−cos k
y
), d-wave,
2∆
x
2
−y
2(cos k
x
−cos k
y
) −4i∆
xy
sin k
x
sin k
y
, d + id-wave,
2i∆(sin k
x
+ i sin k
y
), p-wave.
(2.20)
21
Immediately, we find the energy spectrum to be
E
k
=
_
ε
2
k
+[∆
k
[
2
. (2.21)
It can be seen from the expression above that there is no energy gap for d-wave pairing
while there exists a gap for a pure d + id- or p-wave superconductor as the conventional
s-wave superconductor. Now we would like to question how the situation will be when we
add disorder to the system. As we know from the Anderson’s theorem [97], the energy gap
of an s-wave superconductor will survive even with rather strong disorder. But this is not
the case for p-wave and extended s-wave superconductors which will be discussed in the next
section.
2.3 Disordered superconductors
In this section, we will consider the effect of non-magnetic impurities in the superconductors.
In 1958, Anderson [91] introduced a variant of the tight-binding model to investigate the
effect of disorder in electronic systems. The Hamiltonian in this model is
H =

i
u
i
c

i
c
i
+

<i,j>
t
ij
c

i
c
j
, (2.22)
where u
i
is the on-site energy level. The disorder can be realized by taking u
i
(diagonal
disorder) or t
ij
(non-diagonal disorder), or both, to be random numbers. Presently, we
will choose t
ij
= t to be fixed and let u
i
uniformly and independently distributed from
−W/2 to W/2. Anderson proved that when W/t is large enough all states will be localized,
which means the envelope of the wavefunction decays quickly at large distances from the
localization center.
The effect of disorder in superconductor is rather a different story due to the pairing
interaction. As pointed out by Anderson [97], with weak disorder in conventional super-
conductors, Cooper pair will be formed between time-reversed states whose state density is
not strongly affected by disorder. Thus the transition temperature and the energy gap in
average will not be changed by the weak disorder. But definitly, when the disorder is strong
enough the energy gap will diminish and the superconducting state vanishes. Interestingly,
the energy gap persists with strong disorder even when the off-diagonal correlations are
substantially reduced [98], and this is probably due to the formation of pairs between local
22
states without phase coherence [99]. In our work, we will not explore the supercondutor-
insulator transition but study another transition – the spin quantum Hall transitions in
unconventional superconductors with time-reversal symmetry broken.
Here, we will use the Anderson model to represent the non-magnetic impurities and the
mean field Hamiltonian is the same as Eq. (2.15) except
H
ij
= −tδ
i±1,j
+ (u
i
−µ)δ
ij
, (2.23)
due to the inclusion of the disorder. As an example to show the different responses of
conventional and unconventional superconductors to disorder, we solve the BdG equations
(2.16) with order parameter defined as in Sec. 2.2 and calculate the density of states (DOS)
ρ(E) =

niσ
[[u

[
2
δ(E −E
n
) +[v

[
2
δ(E + E
n
)]. (2.24)
The results are shown in Fig. 2.2. It can be found that the energy gaps of d + id-wave and
p-wave superconductors decrease and finally vanish with increasing the disorder strength W.
For s-wave superconductor it always shows an energy gap, however there is no gap at all for
d-wave superconductor.
In order to deepen our understanding of the behaviors of the dirty superconductor, we
will study its symmetry properties first. Most of the discussion below is based on the work
of Altland and Zirnbauer in Ref. [10].
In Secs. 2.1 and 2.2 we obtained the BdG equations, which govern the dirty supercon-
ductors, from the mean field Hamiltonian by Bogoliubov-Valatin transformation. Here, we
will reach the BdG equations from another point of view when we rewrite the Hamiltonian
(2.15)
H =
1
2

ij
(H
ij
c

i↑
c
j↑
+ H
ij
c

i↓
c
j↓
−H
ji
c
i↑
c

j↑
−H
ji
c
i↓
c

j↓
)
+
1
2

<i,j>
(∆
ij
c

i↑
c

j↓
−∆
ji
c

i↓
c

j↑
−∆

ij
c
i↑
c
j↓
+ ∆

ji
c
i↓
c
j↑
)
=
1
2

ij
(c

i↑
c

i↓
c
i↑
c
i↓
)
_
_
_
_
H
ij

ij
H
ij
−∆
ji
−∆

ij
−H
ji


ji
−H
ji
_
_
_
_
_
_
_
_
c
j↑
c
j↓
c

j↑
c

j↓
_
_
_
_

1
2
(c

c)
ˆ
H
_
c
c

_
. (2.25)
23
Figure 2.2: Density of states of superconductors with various pairing symmetries and
disorder strengths (W): (a) s-wave, (b) d-wave, (c) d + id-wave, (d) p-wave. Solid, W = 0;
dash, W = 2.0; dot, W = 8.0. In the calculations, we take the chemical potential µ = 3.0
and the lattice to be of finite size (L L) with periodic boundary condition. For s-, d- and
p-wave, ∆ = 0.8. For d + id-wave, ∆
x
2
−y
2 = 0.8, ∆
xy
= 0.5. For the case W = 0, we choose
L = 5000, while for cases W ,= 0, we use L = 50 and average over 100 samples.
Thus we see that solving the BdG equations (2.16) is in fact the same as diagonalizing
the 4N 4N matrix
ˆ
H (where N is the number of lattice sites) if we change v
j↑
to −v
j↑
.
Generally, the Hamiltonian of a superconductor is of the following form:
H =

αβ
(h
αβ
c

α
c
β
+
1
2

αβ
c

α
c

β
+
1
2


αβ
c
β
c
α
), (2.26)
where α and β are indices that label both lattice site and spin of the electron. The matrix
ˆ
H is thus given by
ˆ
H =
_
h δ
−δ

−h
T
_
. (2.27)
The hermiticity of h requires h
αβ
= h

βα
(or h = h

) and the antisymmetry of fermions
24
demands δ
αβ
= −δ
βα
(or δ = −δ
T
). These two conditions are necessary for a superconductor
and can be expressed by the following relation:
ˆ
H

=
ˆ
H = −Σ
x
ˆ
H
T
Σ
x
, (2.28)
where
Σ
x
=
_
0 1
2N
1
2N
0
_
= σ
x
⊗1
2N
, (2.29)
and σ
x
is the Pauli matrix.
Now we will examine the symmetry properties beyond Eq. (2.28). One is the spin-rotation
symmetry. The generators of the spin rotations are, in a 4N 4N form,
J
k
=
_
σ
k
−σ
T
k
_
⊗1
N
(2.30)
where k = x, y, z. Spin-rotation invariance of the Hamiltonian requires [
ˆ
H, J
k
] = 0 for all
k’s and this is reduced to h = 1 ⊗H and δ = iσ
y
⊗∆, or explicitly,
ˆ
H =
_
_
_
_
H 0 0 ∆
0 H −∆ 0
0 −∆

−H
T
0


0 0 −H
T
_
_
_
_
, (2.31)
where H = (H
ij
) and ∆ = (∆
ij
). The condition δ
T
= −δ yields ∆
T
= ∆. Therefore we find
p-wave superconductor does not have spin-rotation symmetry but d-wave and d + id-wave
superconductors have. Physically, it can be easily understood since p-wave is spin-triplet
while d- and d + id-wave are spin-singlets.
Another important symmetry is the time-reversal symmetry. In spin-1/2 systems, the
time-reversal operator can be expressed as τK, where τ = 1
2
⊗ iσ
y
⊗ 1
N
and K is the
complex-conjugate operator. When a Hamiltonian is invariant under time-reversal symmetry,
it means
ˆ
H = τ
ˆ
H

τ
−1
. (2.32)
This condition can be simplified to
H = H

, ∆ = ∆

. (2.33)
Accordingly, time-reversal is respected in d-wave superconductor but not in d+id and p-wave
superconductors.
25
Thus far, we have derived the conditions for the Hamiltonian to be invariant under spin-
rotation and time-reversal symmetries. Furthermore, Altland and Zirnbauer use the language
of Lie algebra and category the matrix i
ˆ
H into four classes which is listed in Table 1.1. From
the discussion above, we see that p-wave superconductor is an example of class D and we
will study its transport properties in the next chapter.
26
CHAPTER 3
SPIN QUANTUM HALL TRANSITIONS IN p-WAVE
SUPERCONDUCTORS
As discussed in Chapter 1, we can define spin current in a system, whose spin is conserved
in at least one direction, in analogy of the well-studied charge current. Furthermore, when
the time-reversal symmetry is broken, we can expect spin quantum Hall effect induced by
the gradient of a Zeeman field which couples to spin. For dirty superconductors, classes
C and D
1
fall into this category and the latter will be the main subject in this work.
Consequently, methods, such as Chern and Thouless numbers which are used to study the
tranport properties in the usual quantum Hall effect, can be applied to these kinds of systems
in a similar manner. In this chapter, we will first define the spin current in superconductors
and then describe the Chern and Thouless number methods in the context of our problem.
Our numerical results of p-wave superconductors are presented in Sec. 3.2, including results
of the finite-size scaling analysis of the numerical data. Finally, there is a discussion about
the results.
3.1 Spin quantum Hall effect
In Chapter 2, we introduced the lattice model to describe the superconductors with disorder.
Here, we write down the Hamiltonian as a reference
H = −t

<i,j>σ
c


c

+

<i,j>
(∆
ij
c

i↑
c

j↓
+ ∆

ij
c
j↓
c
i↑
) +


(u
i
−µ)c


c

. (3.1)
All notations are the same as in Chapter 2. From the discussion in Sec. 2.3, we know that
p-wave superconductor belongs to class D, which has both spin-rotation and time-reversal
1
For class D, we can still define spin current when its spin-rotation symmetry is not completely destroyed,
as will be discussed in this chapter.
27
symmetries broken. Although the total spin of the system is not conserved for the p-wave
pairing, we note from the Hamiltonian (3.1) that the z-component of the spin is conserved due
to our choice that pairing only occurs between electrons with opposite spin. This becomes
especially clear if we rewrite the Hamiltonian in terms of particle-hole transformed operators
for the electrons with down spins:
d
i↑
= c
i↑
, d
i↓
= c

i↓
, (3.2)
so that
H = (d


d


)
_
H ∆


−H
T
__
d

d

_
≡ d

H d, (3.3)
where H = (H
ij
) and ∆ = (∆
ij
). Clearly the number of d particles is conserved, reflecting
the conservation of the z-component of the total electron spin. Thus the corresponding
transport properties of the z-component spin are well-defined. In the following we simply
use the word spin to refer to its z-component, and spin conductances refer to the ratios
between the z-component of the spin current and the gradient of the z-component of the
Zeeman field.
It is useful for us to consider the presence of a uniform Zeeman field
H
B
= µ
0
B

i
(c

i↑
c
i↑
−c

i↓
c
i↓
)
= µ
0
B

i
(d

i↑
d
i↑
+ d

i↓
d
i↓
) + const, (3.4)
where µ
0
is the magnetic moment of the electron, B is the Zeeman magnetic field. We note
that the Zeeman field plays a role of the Fermi energy for the (conserved) d particles. More
importantly, its presence changes the symmetry property of the systems. Due to the p-wave
pairing symmetry, we have ∆
ij
= −∆
ji
and thus the Hamiltonian obeys
H = −Σ
x
H
T
Σ
x
, Σ
x
= σ
x
⊗1
N
, (3.5)
beyond the general relation Eq. (2.28). But H
B
, which is a unit matrix (times µ
0
B) in d
representation, does not possess this additional relation apparently.
In order to carry out numerical calculations in the lattice model, we take the the lattice
to be square and of finite size (L L). Because we will calculate the spin current by taking
28
advantage of phase transformation, we use a generalized periodic boundary condition for the
d particles
d
j+L
i

= e

i
d

,
where i = x, y. In terms of c operators, we have
c
j+L
i

= e

i
c
j↑
, c
j+L
i

= e
−iθ
i
c
j↓
. (3.6)
The spin Hall conductance of an individual quasiparticle eigenstate [m) can be calculated
by the Kubo formula
σ
S
xy
(m) =
i
A

n=m
¸m[j
S
x
[n)¸n[j
S
y
[m) −¸m[j
S
y
[n)¸n[j
S
x
[m)
(E
n
−E
m
)
2
, (3.7)
where A = L
2
is the area of the system, [m), [n) are quasiparticle eigenstates of the
Hamiltonian [Eq. (3.1)] and j
S
= (j
S
x
, j
S
y
) the spin current operator. The spin current is
given by
j
S
=
_

2
_

1
i
[(x

−x

), H], (3.8)
where
x
σ
=

i
x
i
c


c

, (3.9)
and x
i
is the position of site i.
Following Thouless and co-workers [57, 58], we make the unitary transformation
˜ c

= e
−iσα·x
i
c

, (3.10)
where α = (α
x
, α
y
) with α
x
= θ
x
/L and the same for α
y
. Now, we will work in this
new respresentation ˜ c. The generalized periodic boundary condition (3.6) thus becomes the
simple periodic boundary condition. It can also be found that
j
S
=
1
2
∂H
∂α
. (3.11)
Let [˜ n) to be the eigenstate in the new representation, we have
H[˜ n) = E
n
[˜ n), (3.12)
which yields
_
∂H
∂α

∂E
n
∂α
_
[˜ n) = (E
n
−H)
¸
¸
¸
¸
∂˜ n
∂α
_
, (3.13)
29
or
¸ ˜ m[
∂H
∂α
[˜ n) = (E
n
−E
m
)¸ ˜ m[
∂˜ n
∂α
), m ,= n. (3.14)
Therefore the Kubo formula (3.7) is reduced to
σ
S
xy
(m) =
i
4A
__
∂ ˜ m
∂α
x
¸
¸
¸
¸
∂ ˜ m
∂α
y
_

_
∂ ˜ m
∂α
y
¸
¸
¸
¸
∂ ˜ m
∂α
x
__
=
i
4
__
∂ ˜ m
∂θ
x
¸
¸
¸
¸
∂ ˜ m
∂θ
y
_

_
∂ ˜ m
∂θ
y
¸
¸
¸
¸
∂ ˜ m
∂θ
x
__
. (3.15)
The spin Hall conductance averaged over boundary conditions is related to a topological
quantum number
¸σ
S
xy
(m)) =


__

x

y
1
2πi
_ _
∂ ˜ m
∂θ
y
¸
¸
¸
¸
∂ ˜ m
∂θ
x
_

_
∂ ˜ m
∂θ
x
¸
¸
¸
¸
∂ ˜ m
∂θ
y
__
=


C
1
(m), (3.16)
where C
1
(m) is an integer and known as the first Chern index. As is widely used in quantum
Hall transitions and other contexts [59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68], C
1
(m) can be used
to distinguish current carrying states from localized states unambiguously, even in finite-
size systems, thus providing a powerful method to study the localization properties of the
quasiparticle states.
An alternative way to study the localization properties of the states is to calculate the
Thouless number (also known as the Thouless conductance) of the states at a given Fermi
energy E, defined as [69, 71]
g
T
(E) =
¸[δE[)
∆E

σ
S
xx
, (3.17)
where ∆E is the average energy level spacing at energy E, and ¸[δE[) is the average energy
level shift caused by the change of the boundary condition from periodic to anti-periodic
in one spatial direction. It was argued in the context of electron localization that g
T
(E) is
proportional to the longitudinal conductance of the system [69, 71]; in the present context we
expect it to provide a measure of the longitudinal spin conductance of the superconductor.
Thouless numbers have also been numerically studied for the conventional integer quantum
Hall effect, in both full [100] and projected [101] lattice models.
In this work we carry out numerical calculations to diagonalize the Hamiltonian H to
obtain the exact quasiparticle eigen wave functions. We calculate their Chern and Thouless
30
numbers to study their localization properties, and perform finite-size scaling analysis to
extract critical behavior of the transitions driven by the change of the disorder strength W
or the Zeeman field.
3.2 Numerical results
In this work, we choose ∆ = 0.5 and the chemical potential µ = 3.0 to avoid the van Hove
singularity at zero energy in the single electron spectrum. To calculate the Chern number of
each eigenstate, we evaluate the integral in Eq. (3.16) numerically over the boundary phase
space 0 ≤ θ
x
, θ
y
≤ 2π. We divide the boundary phase space into M M square grids
with M = 20 – 80, depending on the system size L = 10 – 40 to achieve desired precision.
Figure 3.1 shows the density of states (DOS) (per lattice site and spin species) ρ(E) for a
system with L = 10 and W = 4.0. For such a relatively weak disorder, the superconducting
gap is still visible. Also shown is the spin Hall conductance σ
S
xy
as a function of quasiparticle
Fermi energy E = µ
B
B, calculated by summing up Chern number of states below the Fermi
energy. We find that σ
S
xy
jumps from zero up by one unit near the (disorder-broadened)
lower band edge, and jumps back to zero above the gap. Therefore, a plateau in σ
S
xy
is well
developed around E = 0, clearly indicating the existence of a spin quantum Hall phase. This
phase with topological Chern number equal to one is the simplest possible spin quantum Hall
phase for non-interacting quasiparticles; it is simpler, for example, than the corresponding
phase of an d
x
2
−y
2 + id
xy
superconductor, which carries a total Chern number two.
In the following discussion, we focus on cases with disorder strong enough to close the
gap, and look for transitions from the spin quantum Hall phase to other possible phases,
driven by either the disorder strength W or the quasiparticle Fermi energy. In Fig. 3.2,
we plot the total DOS ρ(E) (which is roughly system size independent) and the density of
current carrying states (defined as states with non-zero Chern number) ρ
e
(E) for systems
with L = 10 – 40. We find that ρ
e
(E) has a weak double-peak structure near E = 0 for large
L, whose width shrinks as L increases. This behavior is reminiscent of those seen in the
numerical study of current carrying states in the integer quantum Hall effect [60, 61, 62],
where the current carrying states exist only at discrete critical energies in the thermodynamic
limit and, thus, the width of ρ
e
(E) peak(s) shrinks to zero as L increases toward infinity.
In the present case the two peaks correspond to two such critical energies, carrying a total
Chern number +1 and −1, respectively, which are responsible for the spin quantum Hall
31
Figure 3.1: Density of states ρ(E) (solid line) and spin Hall conductance σ
S
xy
(E) (dotted
line, in units of /8π) for L = 10 and W = 4.0. We average over 500 samples of different
random potential realizations.
Figure 3.2: Density of states (DOS) ρ(E) and density of current carrying states (with
nonzero Chern number), ρ
e
(E), for systems with L = 10 – 40 and W = 8.0.
32
plateau when the Fermi energy is between them (so that only the lower critical energy is
below the Fermi energy). According to the scaling theory of localization, ρ
e
(E) depends on
L only through a dimensionless ratio L/ξ(E) when the system size becomes sufficiently large;
the localization length ξ diverges in the vicinity of a critical energy E
c
as ξ(E) ∼ [E−E
c
[
−ν
.
Therefore, the number of current carrying states N
e
(L) behaves as
N
e
(L) = 2L
2
_

−∞
ρ
e
(E) dE ∼ L
2−1/ν
, (3.18)
from which we can estimate ν. Assuming we have a similar situation here, we plot N
e
(L),
normalized by the total number of states N(L) = 2L
2
, on a log-log scale in Fig. 3.3. Just as
in the quantum Hall case [60, 61, 62], we can fit the data to a power law (a straight line in
the log-log plot) as in Eq. (3.18) reasonably well, and obtain
ν = 2.6 ±0.2.
This is close to the corresponding exponent ν = 2.3 ± 0.1 for the integer quantum Hall
transition. These results suggest that just as in the case of the integer quantum Hall effect,
current carrying states exist at discrete critical energies in the thermodynamic limit, and the
spin quantum Hall transition driven by the Zeeman field (or equivalently, the quasiparticle
Fermi energy) has the same critical behavior as the integer quantum Hall transition. This is
expected on the symmetry ground, because in this case the critical energies are away from
E = 0, and thus can only be reached in the presence of the Zeeman field. As discussed
earlier, the Zeeman field breaks the symmetry of Eq. (3.5) and reduces the symmetry of the
present problem to that of electrons moving in a magnetic field and a random potential.
While the Chern numbers measure the ability of individual states to carry spin Hall
current, we have also calculated the Thouless conductance g
T
(E), which is a measure of
the longitudinal spin conductance. Unlike the Chern number calculation which requires the
diagonalization of the Hamiltonian for many different boundary conditions, the Thouless
number calculation only needs the diagonalization at two different boundary conditions,
thus allowing us to study larger systems. On the other hand, it is known in the numerical
study of quantum Hall effect that Chern number calculation reaches the scaling behavior
at smaller system sizes. Therefore, these two methods are complementary to each other.
Figure 3.4 shows ρ(E) and g
T
(E) for systems with L = 40 – 80, and with W = 8.0. We find
that g
T
(E) has a similar double-peak structure as ρ
e
(E) with peaks locating at the same
33
Figure 3.3: Percentage of current carrying states N
e
/N(L) versus system size L on a log-log
scale for W = 8.0. The solid line is a power-law fit of the data.
Figure 3.4: Density of states ρ(E) and Thouless number g
T
(E) for systems with L = 40 – 80
and W = 8.0.
34
Table 3.1: Critical exponents ν for different cutoff energies E
cut
with W = 8.0.
E
cut
3.0 3.2 3.4 3.6 3.8 4.0
ν 2.79 2.73 2.68 2.64 2.58 2.54
δν 0.08 0.08 0.08 0.07 0.07 0.07
energies, and that the peaks become narrower as L increases. In the following we perform
the similar scaling analysis based on the zeroth moment of g
T
(E) as for the Chern numbers.
Namely, we compute the area A(L) under g
T
(E) and expect
A(L) =
_

−∞
g
T
(E)dE ∼ L
−1/ν
. (3.19)
One slight complication is that unlike ρ
e
(E), g
T
(E) has long tails extending to the edges of
ρ(E), which clearly has no connection to the critical behavior near the critical energies. To
eliminate the influence of these artificial tails, we introduce a cutoff energy E
cut
, and exclude
contributions from [E[ > E
cut
. Based on the Chern number calculation above (Fig. 3.2), as
well as the g
T
(E) curves themselves, we can safely choose E
cut
between 3.0 and 4.0, beyond
which we find essentially no current carrying states for L ≥ 40. In Fig. 3.5, we plot, on a
log-log scale, the area A(L) normalized by the area under the DOS curve between −E
cut
and
E
cut
:
N
cut
=
_
Ecut
−Ecut
ρ(E; L)dE
for a series of different E
cut
, and list the corresponding ν in Table ??. We find that ν has
very weak dependence on the choice of the cutoff energy and its variation between 2.54 and
2.79 is consistent with the results obtained from the Chern number calculation.
We also studied other disorder strengths. In the case of the integer quantum Hall
transition [61, 62], it is known that as the disorder strength increases, the critical energies
that carry opposite Chern numbers move close together, merge, and disappear at some
critical disorder strength W
c
. In the present case, we expect the same to happen and due to
the symmetry of the Hamiltonian, the critical energies can only merge at E = 0. We present
the results for W = 9.0 in Fig. 3.6. In this case we no longer see two split critical energies,
suggesting that the two critical energies that were clearly distinguishable at W = 8.0 either
(i) have moved too close to be distinguishable at the accessible system sizes, or (ii) have
35
Figure 3.5: Area A(L) of Thouless number g
T
(E) normalized by number of states N
cut
counted, versus system size L on a log-log scale for different cutoff energy E
cut
and W = 8.0.
The lines are power-law fits of the data.
just merged. We believe scenario (i) is much more likely than (ii) based on the following
observations. (a) We find that the peak value of g
T
(E) is independent of system size and
takes the same value as that of W = 8.0. (b) We have performed the same scaling analysis
of g
T
(E) as we did above for W = 8.0 and obtained a similar exponent ν ≈ 2.3 (see inset
of Fig. 3.6), which is even closer to the known value of the integer quantum Hall transition.
However, there is another possibility that instead of entering the insulating phase (in which
all quasiparticles states are localized) immediately, the system is in a metallic phase, after
the two critical energies merge so that the system is no longer in the spin quantum Hall
phase. Senthil and Fisher [102] suggested that in this phase both the DOS ρ(E) and the
conductance diverge logarithmically at the band center. Interestingly, we indeed find ρ(E)
to be enhanced at E = 0. We believe, however, this is not associated to the metallic phase
for the following reasons. (i) No such enhancement is seen in the Thouless number, which is
a measure of the longitudinal conductance. (ii) We find ρ(E) to be essentially system size
independent between L = 40 and L = 80, even at E = 0, while one expects [102] ρ(L) ∼ log L
in the metallic phase. (iii) We find that (see below) the enhancement of ρ(E) at E = 0 is also
36
present at stronger disorder when the system is clearly insulating. Thus it appears unlikely
that the metallic phase is responsible for the single peak in g
T
(E).
The situation is quite different as W further increases. In Fig. 3.7, we present results for
W = 10.0 and see a very different behavior. Here the peak value of g
T
(E) systematically
decreases as the system size increases, exhibiting a characteristic insulating behavior.
Combined with results of smaller W, we conclude that in the absence of the Zeeman field (or
when the quasiparticle Fermi energy is at E = 0), the system is driven into the insulating
phase from the spin quantum Hall phase as the disorder strength W increases. The critical
strength W
c
is slightly above 9.0 and clearly below 10.0. No evidence has been found for the
existence of an intermediate metallic phase that separates these two phases for our choice of
model parameters (µ = 3.0, ∆ = 0.5, etc.).
The critical behavior of the transition driven by increasing W is expected to be different
from the one driven by changing the Zeeman field discussed above, due to the additional
symmetry. In order to study the critical property one first needs to determine the critical
disorder strength W
c
accurately, which we are unable to do within the accessible system size
in our study. It would be of significant interest to study this transition with more powerful
computers and/or other computational methods.
We give the results of W = 15.0 in Fig. 3.8 as an example of strong disorder,
where all states are clearly localized. Here, the Thouless number drops rapidly as the
system size increases as expected. Interestingly, the enhancement of the DOS at E = 0
remains to be quite pronounced, suggesting that it is not associated with possible metallic
behavior discussed above. For comparison, we return to the DOS of a d
x
2
−y
2 + id
xy
-
wave superconductor shown in Fig. 2.2 (c). It belongs to class C and has been studied
in considerable detail in Refs. [103, 104, 105, 106]. From the plot, we see the gap vanishes
just like the p-wave case for sufficiently large W. Furthermore, the DOS exhibits a pseudogap
behavior at E = 0 for large W, in the vicinity of which the DOS vanishes in an (apparently
sublinear) power law as predicted [104, 105]. This is a good example that the change of
symmetry profoundly affects the critical behavior as well as other properties of the system.
3.3 Conclusion
In this chapter we have studied the localization properties of the quasiparticle states in
superconductors with spontaneously broken time-reversal symmetry, which support spin
37
Figure 3.6: Density of states ρ(E) and Thouless number g
T
(E) for systems with L = 40 – 80
and W = 9.0. The inset shows the area of Thouless number g
T
(E) divided by N
cut
for
E
cut
= 4.0.
Figure 3.7: Density of states ρ(E) and Thouless number g
T
(E) for systems with L = 40 – 80
and W = 10.0. The inset is a blow-up of the Thouless number curves near E = 0, which
shows that g
T
(E = 0) decreases with increasing L.
38
Figure 3.8: Density of states ρ(E) and Thouless number g
T
(E) for systems with L = 20 – 40
and W = 15.0.
quantum Hall phases. Our study is based on the exact diagonalization of microscopic lattice
models and the consequent numerical calculation of the Chern and Thouless numbers of the
quasiparticle states. Our microscopic study is complementary to previous numerical work
on this subject, which have been based almost exclusively on effective network models with
appropriate symmetries [103, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109].
We have focused mostly on a p-wave pairing model in which the time-reversal symmetry
is broken by the (complex) pairing order parameter, while the z-component of the total spin
is conserved so that the transport properties of the z-component of the spin is well defined.
We find the system supports a spin quantum Hall phase with spin Hall conductance one in
appropriate unit, and an insulating phase. Transitions between these two phases may be
induced either by changing the disorder strength, or by applying and sweeping a Zeeman
field. The field-driven transition is found to have the same critical behavior as the integer
quantum Hall transition of non-interacting electrons as expected on symmetry grounds. The
disorder-driven transition in the absence of the Zeeman field is expected to have different
critical properties due to additional symmetry of the Hamiltonian. However, we have not
been able to study the critical behavior of this transition.
39
The symmetry properties of the p-wave pairing model in the absence of the Zeeman
field belongs to class D in the classification of general fermion pairing models of Altland and
Zirnbauer [10]. It has been suggested that in addition to the quantum Hall and the insulating
phases, class D models may also support a metallic phase [102], which has logarithmically
divergent density of states and conductance. Such a system can have either a direct transition
between the quantum Hall and the insulating phases, or a metallic phase separating these
two phases. In our model we find a direct transition between the spin quantum Hall and
insulating phases, but no definitive evidence for a metallic phase. This is not unusual as it
is known [108] that specific microscopic models may or may not support the metallic phase.
For comparison, we also look at the density of states of a d-wave superconductor with
d
x
2
−y
2 + id
xy
pairing order parameter, which supports a spin quantum Hall phase with
spin Hall conductance two in the same unit. This model has different symmetry properties
and belongs to class C in the classification of Altland and Zirnbauer. We find that the
density of states vanishes with sublinear power law near E = 0, in agreement with earlier
studies [104, 105, 106, 107]. This is in sharp contrast to the p-wave case in which we
observe an enhanced density of states at E = 0 for sufficiently strong disorder, demonstrating
the profound effect of symmetries on the low-energy properties of the system. While this
enhancement is somewhat reminiscent of the divergent density of states of the possible
metallic phase, further analysis suggests this is not the case. The origin of this enhancement
is currently unclear.
40
CHAPTER 4
FULDE-FERRELL-LARKIN-OVCHINNIKOV
SUPERCONDUCTOR
In this chapter, we will study another type of unconventional superconductors which
distinguishes from those conventional ones by possessing non-zero finite momemtum in
Cooper pairs. In the early 1960’s, Fulde and Ferrell [15] and Larkin and Ovchinnikov [16]
proposed the possibility that a superconducting state with a periodic spatial variation of the
order parameter would become stable when a singlet superconductor is subject to a large
Zeeman splitting. The Zeeman splitting could be due to either a strong magnetic field or an
internal exchange field. Under such a strong magnetic or exchange field, there is a splitting
of the Fermi surfaces of spin-up and -down electrons, and condensed pairs of electrons with
opposite spins across the Fermi surface may be formed to lower the free energy from that
of a normal spin-polarized state. These pairs have a non-zero total momentum 2q, which
causes the phase of the superconducting order parameter to vary spatially with the wave
number 2q. This state is known as the Fulde-Ferrell (FF) state. Larkin and Ovchinnikov
(LO), on the other hand, proposed independently an alternative scenario, in which the order
parameter is real, but varies periodically in space, possibly in more than one directions.
Both types of states are now known (collectively) as the Fulde-Ferrell-Larkin-Ovchinnikov
(FFLO) state. In our work, we focus on the FF state and it can be easily studied in the
continuum model. First we will introduce the model and present the self-consistent mean
field solutions for both s- and d
x
2
−y
2-wave superconductors in FF phases. Then a discussion
of the properties of FF state is followed. All calculations are performed at zero temperature
T = 0.
41
4.1 The Fulde-Ferrell state
We start from the Hamiltonian,
H =



k
+ σµ
0
B)c


c

+

k,k

,q
V
kk
c

k+q↑
c

−k+q↓
c
−k

+q↓
c
k

+q↑
, (4.1)
where ξ
k
is the single-particle kinetic energy relative to the Fermi energy
F
, B is the
Zeeman magnetic field, µ
0
is the magnetic moment of the electron. For s-wave SC, we
have V
kk
= −V
0
, while for d-wave SC, we have V
kk
= −V
0
cos(2θ
k
) cos(2θ
k
) (here,

k
[, [ξ
k
[ < ω
c
¸
F
, ω
c
is the cutoff, θ
k
is the azimuthal angle of k). The mean field
Hamiltonian is,
H
MF
=



k
+ σµ
0
B)c


c

k
(∆
kq
c

k+q↑
c

−k+q↓
+ ∆

kq
c
−k+q↓
c
k+q↑
), (4.2)
where ∆
kq
is the pairing potential and satisfies the self-consistent condition,

kq
= −

k

V
kk
¸c
−k

+q↓
c
k

+q↑
). (4.3)
The mean field Hamiltonian could be rewritten as
H
MF
=

k
(c

k+q↑
, c
−k+q↓
)
ˆ
H
k
_
c
k+q↑
c

−k+q↓
_
+ const. (4.4)
where
ˆ
H
k
=
_
ξ
k+q
+ µ
0
B −∆
kq
−∆

kq
−ξ
k−q
+ µ
0
B
_
.
To diagonalize it, we perform the Bogoliubov-Valatin transformation
_
c
k+q↑
c

−k+q↓
_
=
_
u

k
v
k
−v

k
u
k
__
α
k
β

k
_
, (4.5)
and choose
u
k
v
k
=
ξ
(s)
k
+ E
k

kq
,
[u
k
[
2
=
1
2
_
1 +
ξ
(s)
k
E
k
_
= 1 −[v
k
[
2
,
where E
k
=
_

2
kq
+ ξ
(s)2
k
, ξ
(s)
k
= (ξ
k+q
+ ξ
k−q
)/2, and ξ
(a)
k
= (ξ
k+q
− ξ
k−q
)/2, from which
we get the diagonalized Hamiltonian
H
MF
=

k
(E
k+
α

k
α
k
+ E
k−
β

k
β
k
) + const. (4.6)
42
with eigenenergies (σ = ±1)
E

= E
k
+ σ(µ
0
B + ξ
(a)
k
). (4.7)
There are regions in the k-space where the Cooper pairs are destroyed and occupied by
electrons of one spin species; these are states with E

< 0. In these cases the Bogoliubov-
Valatin transformation [Eq. (4.5)] should be replaced by
_
c
k+q↑
c

−k+q↓
_
=
_
u

k
v
k
−v

k
u
k
__
α

k
β

k
_
(4.8)
when E
k+
< 0, or
_
c
k+q↑
c

−k+q↓
_
=
_
u

k
v
k
−v

k
u
k
__
α
k
β
k
_
(4.9)
when E
k−
< 0
1
. Then, the diagonalized Hamiltonian is
H
MF
=

k
([E
k+


k
α
k
+[E
k−


k
β
k
) + const. (4.10)
with positive quasiparticle energies.
We calculate the self-consistent pairing potential numerically and the results of s- and d-
wave SC are presented in Figs. 4.1 – 4.3, respectively. In our numerical calculations presented
below, we take ω
c
= 10∆
0
(here ∆
0
is the gap of the usual BCS state at T = 0 without a
Zeeman field, and for d-wave it is the gap along antinodal direction or maximum gap), and
H = µ
0
B/∆
0
, Q = qv
F
/∆
0
. The superconducting state is destroyed when H > 1 for s-wave
SC [110] and H > 1.06 for d-wave SC [111, 112].
In the weak coupling limit, the total energy of the system is given by
¸H−µN) =

k
_
_
_

(s)
k
[v
k
[
2
, E
k,±1
> 0
ξ
k+q
+ µ
0
B, E
k+
< 0
ξ
k−q
−µ
0
B, E
k−
< 0
_
_
_


2
q
V
0
. (4.11)
Here, for an s-wave superconductor, we have ∆
kq
= ∆
q
, and for a d-wave superconductor,
we have ∆
kq
= ∆
q
cos 2θ
k
. For a given Zeeman field B, we calculate the energy of the pairing
state numerically using Eq. (4.11) with Q varied, and compare it with that of the competing
states (the normal spin polarized state and the BCS state) in order to find the ground state.
1
Note that the subscript k in the new creation operators defined in Eqs. (4.5) and (4.8) is only an index.
The new QPs generated by these creation operators actually have momentum −k in the order of k
F
. (They
are not momentum eigenstates to the accuracy of q ∼ ξ
−1
.)
43
Figure 4.1: Contours of equal pairing potential for an s-wave superconductor under Zeeman
field B at zero temperature. Here ∆
0
is the gap of the usual BCS state in the absence of the
Zeeman field; H ≡ µ
0
B/∆
0
, Q ≡ qv
F
/∆
0
. The FF state is given by the solid line.
In the superconducting regime, for s-wave case, at H
p1
≈ 0.704, a transition occurs and the
FF state becomes the ground state. For d-wave case, the critical Zeeman field is H
p1
≈ 0.544
where an FF phase occurs with q along the nodal direction. At a higher H

p1
≈ 0.78, the FF
state with q along the antinodal direction dominates [112]. The critical fields H
p1
are slightly
smaller than the Clogston-Chandrasekhar fields which is H
p1
= 1/

2 for s-wave [13, 14],
and ≈ 0.56 for d-wave [112] (see also Ref. [113]). The qualitative illustrations of the phase
diagrams are presented in Figs. 4.4 and 4.5. For finite temperature, there is a tricritical
point at T

≈ 0.56T
c
and the FF state vanishes when T > T

for both s-wave [114, 110] and
d-wave cases [112].
4.2 Properties of the Fulde-Ferrell state
In this section we will review some properties of the FF state, such as the current in the
superconductor and the density of states.
There exist two kinds of current in a FF superconductor, one is the supercurrent caused
44
Figure 4.2: Same as Fig. 4.1 except that it is now for a d-wave superconductor with q along
the antinodal direction.
Figure 4.3: Same as Fig. 4.2 except that q is here along the nodal direction.
45
Figure 4.4: Qualitative sketch of the phase diagram of an s-wave superconductor under
a Zeeman field, including the possibility of Fulde-Ferrell state. Solid line shows the phase
transition between the superconducting state and the normal spin polarized state; dash-
dotted line indicates the phase transition between the usual BCS state and the FF state;
dotted line gives the Clogston-Chandrasekhar critical field.
by the non-zero total momentum in the Cooper pairs, the other is the normal current of
the quasiparticles. These quasiparticles are created by breaking Cooper pairs due to the
imbalance of the spin-up and -down electrons. However, the supercurrent is expected to be
compensated by the backflow of the quasiparticle current, and therefore, we have a zero total
current [15]. Here we demonstrate that the total current is indeed zero for the self-consistent
mean-field ground state. The total current operator can be written as
J =
e
m

k
((k +q)c

k+q↑
c
k+q↑
−(k −q)c

−k+q↓
c
−k+q↓
) (4.12)
and in the superconducting state, its expectation value is
¸J) = −
e
m

k
_
_
_
2q[v
k
[
2
, E
k,±1
> 0
q +k, E
k+
< 0
q −k, E
k−
< 0 .
_
_
_
. (4.13)
By differentiate Eq. (4.11) at fixed ∆ we can verify that
¸J) = −e

∂q
¸H−µN) .
46
Figure 4.5: Qualitative sketch of the phase diagram of a d-wave superconductor under a
Zeeman field, including the possibility of Fulde-Ferrell state. The curves have the same
meaning as in Fig. 4.4, except that the dashed line is the phase boundary separating FF
states with q along the antinodal direction and the nodal direction. Here, α is the angle
between q and the antinodal direction.
Since ¸H−µN) is minimized in the q, ∆ space, the current must be zero.
The electron DOS can be evaluated using
ρ(E) =

k,E

>0
[u
k
[
2
_
δ(E −E
k+
) + δ(E −E
k−
)
_
+

k,E
k+
<0
_
[v
k
[
2
δ(E + E
k+
) +[u
k
[
2
δ(E −E
k−
)
_
+

k,E
k−
<0
_
[u
k
[
2
δ(E −E
k+
) +[v
k
[
2
δ(E + E
k−
)
_
. (4.14)
Within the approximation of ξ
(s)
k
≈ ξ
k
and ξ
(a)
k
≈ qv
F
cos(θ
k
−θ
q
), it can be seen that for an
arbitrary state k, there is always another state k

with ξ
k
= −ξ
k
, so that both states have
the same energy, and their weighting factors in Eq. (4.14) add up to unity. Thus, Eq. (4.14)
can be simplified to
ρ(E) =
ρ
n
(0)

_

0

_
ωc
0

_
δ(E −[E
k+
[) + δ(E −[E
k−
[)
_
, (4.15)
47
where ρ
n
(0) is the DOS of the normal state at the Fermi level. Finally, we obtain
ρ
e
(E)
ρ
n
(0)
=
1

_

0
dθ ˜ ρ
e
(E, θ), (4.16)
where
˜ ρ
e
(E, θ) =
1
2
_
[
+
[
_

2
+
−[∆(k
F
)[
2
+
[

[
_

2

−[∆(k
F
)[
2
_
,
with
σ
= E −σ(µ
0
B + qv
F
cos(θ
k
−θ
q
)). The result is presented in Fig. 4.6.
4.3 Discussion of the Larkin-Ovchinnikov state
The spatial variation of the order parameter in the FF state can be expressed as
2
∆(r) = ∆
0
e
iq·r
, (4.17)
but a more general form (LO) is
∆(r) =

m

m
e
iqm·r
. (4.18)
For the LO case, self-consistent solution is ordinarily obtained by solving the Bogoliubov-de
Gennes (BdG) equations. Exact solution is only studied in 1D system (e.g. [115, 116, 117]).
For 2D system, the BdG equations are usually solved by numerical methods (e.g. [113]), or
are studied in the vicinity of critical point by Green function method (e.g. [16]). These are
about the situation in the continuum model. The self-consistent solution of the LO case
is also studied in the 2D lattice model (e.g. [118]). Due to its simplicity in implementing
numerical calculations, we will labor in the lattice model for the LO case in our future work.
2
The q here equals 2q in the rest of this thesis.
48
Figure 4.6: Representative electron density of states for various Zeeman fields and both
s- and d-wave superconductors. (a) s-wave: solid, H = 0.704, Q = 0.804; dash, H = 0.8,
Q = 0.892; dot, H = 0.9, Q = 0.952. (b) d-wave with q along the antinodal direction: solid,
H = 0.78, Q = 0.808; dash, H = 0.88, Q = 0.9. (c) d-wave with q along the nodal direction:
solid, H = 0.544, Q = 0.608; dash, H = 0.68, Q = 0.816; dot, H = 0.776, Q = 0.94.
49
CHAPTER 5
CONDUCTANCE CHARACTERISTICS OF
NORMAL METAL/SUPERCONDUTOR
JUNCTIONS
In the previous chapter, we have studied the 2D FFLO superconductor. Though a number of
experiments indicating its presence in CeCoIn
5
have been reported, none of them are phase
sensitive that can detect the spatial variation of the order parameter or related properties
unambiguously. Since CeCoIn
5
is a quasi-2D d-wave superconductor, and the Andreev bound
states (ABSs) measured in the tunneling spectrum of normal metal/superconductor junction
(NSJ) have played an essential role in detecting the d-wave pairing, we will consider using this
experiment to probe the FFLO phase in this work again. Other phase sensitive experiments
have also been proposed in literature, such as those discussed in Refs. [119, 120, 121]. In this
chapter, we will first give an introduction of the Blonder-Tinkham-Klapwijk (BTK) theory
to calculate the conductance characteristics of an NSJ and then apply to the case of FFLO
state. Presently, we only work on the FF state case and thus the continuum model will be
used. All calculations are performed at zero temperature as in previous chapter.
5.1 Blonder-Tinkham-Klapwijk theory
In Sec. 1.2, we have outlined the physics of the process when an electron falls onto the
interface of a NSJ, and we will formulate it down in this section based on Refs. [78, 79, 90].
We consider a 2D NSJ in which N and S are connected by a small flat contact. The size
of the contact is small compared with the mean free path, and therefore we do not need
to consider the propagation of the particles by scattering at the interface. The interface is
perpendicular to the x axis and is located at x = 0. For simplicity, we also assume the
superconductor is homogeneous in the region x > 0, thus the proximity effect is neglected
50
and the order parameter takes the value of the bulk superconductor. First, we will study
the case without any external fields and include the Zeeman field in the next section.
To further our understanding of the physical process shown in Fig. 1.6, we look at the
1D s-wave case again for its simplicity. As we know from the BCS theory, the excitation
energy of the quasiparticle (QP) in an s-wave superconductor is
E
k
=
_
ξ
2
k
+ ∆
2
, (5.1)
where ξ
k
is the kinetic energy of single particle relative to the Fermi energy ε
F
and ∆ is the
order parameter. We plot this dispersion relation schematically in Fig. 5.1, along with that
of the normal metal side. In the plot, E is the energy of a QP relative to the Fermi energy
and we label the incident electron by 0. When the energy of 0 is above the energy gap, the
possible QPs transimitted into the superconductor can be 1 – 4, while the electron reflected
back is 5 and the hole by Andreev reflection is 6
1
, so as to conserve the energy of the system
in this process. Moreover, since the incident electron is from left to right side, the transmitted
particles should be with positive group velocities (dE/dk) and reflected ones with negative
group velocities. Therefore, only particles 2 and 4 are transmitted with probabilities of D
and C, respectively. When the energy of 0 is below the gap, the transmitted particles will
be converted into Cooper pair condensate after penetrate a distance. The wave functions
describing these particles are thus decay waves instead of plane waves. Keeping this in mind,
we can continue to calculate the conductance in a simplified 2D model which assumes the
Fermi wave numbers k
F
and the effective masses m of both sides are of equal.
For an inhomogeneous system
2
, the QPs are described by the Bogoliubov-de Gennes
equations [9],
Eu(x) =
ˆ
h
0
u(x) +
_
dx

∆(s, r)v(x

), (5.2a)
Ev(x) = −
ˆ
h
0
v(x) +
_
dx



(s, r)u(x

), (5.2b)
where s = x − x

, r = (x + x

)/2,
ˆ
h
0
= −∇
2
/2m + Uδ(x) − µ with U the barrier
at the interface x = 0 and µ the chemical potential which equals to ε
F
approximately,
1
It should be noted that all states below the Fermi surface (k
F
) is occupied at T = 0, and thus 6 is a
hole. Similarly, QPs 2 and 3 are hole-like while 1 and 4 are electron-like.
2
The system here means the NSJ including both sides, and is therefore inhomogeneous though we assumed
the superconductor is itself a homogeneous one.
51
Figure 5.1: Schematic diagram of dispersion relations on the two sides of an NSJ. The
diagram shows states in the vicinity of the Fermi surface (E = 0) on both forward (k
F
) and
reverse (−k
F
) sides of the Fermi sphere. The closed circles denote electrons while the open
ones are holes. The arrows point in the direction of the group velocity. This figure describes
an incident electron at 0, along with the transmitted (2, 4) and reflected (5, 6) particles.
(Refer to Ref. [78])
∆(s, r) =
_
dke
ik·s
˜
∆(k, r). From the assumption that we made about the model we have
˜
∆(k, r) = ∆(k)Θ(x), where Θ(x) is the step function, and ∆(k) is the order parameter
in the bulk superconductor. Since we are interested in QPs around the Fermi surface, the
eigenfunctions will oscillate rapidly on a scale of 1/k
F
which is unessential to our problem. In
order to remove this oscillation, we employ the WKB approximation and make the following
transformation
_
u(x)
v(x)
_
= e
ik
F
·x
_
˜ u(x)
˜ v(x)
_
. (5.3)
Substituting Eq. (5.3) into Eq. (5.2) we obtain the Andreev equations
E˜ u(x) = −
i
m
k
F
∇˜ u(x) + ∆(k
F
)Θ(x)˜ v(x), (5.4a)
E˜ v(x) =
i
m
k
F
∇˜ v(x) + ∆

(k
F
)Θ(x)˜ u(x), (5.4b)
where ∆(k
F
) is the order parameter of the superconductor in the direction of k
F
. For s-wave
52
superconductor ∆(k
F
) = ∆
0
, and for d-wave ∆(k
F
) = ∆
0
cos 2(θ +δ), where θ and δ are the
angles between +x axis and the directions of k
F
and the antinodal line, respectively.
In our model, the system is invariant under translation in y direction and there is
discontinuity of the structure along the x axis. Thus we have the solutions of the Andreev
equations (5.4) in the superconductor side (x > 0) to be of the following form
_
˜ u(x)
˜ v(x)
_
= e
iαx
_
ˆ u
ˆ v
_
, (5.5)
where
α = ±
m
k
Fx
_
E
2
−[∆(k
F
)[
2
, (5.6)
ˆ u
ˆ v
=
∆(k
F
)
E ∓
_
E
2
−[∆(k
F
)[
2
, (5.7)
k
Fx
= k
F
cos θ (−π/2 < θ < π/2). To be more specific, we take “+” sign for α (5.6) and
“−” for ˆ u/ˆ v (5.7) in the following calculations. From Fig. 5.1, we can write down the wave
functions of the transmitted QPs without the y variation (e
ik
Fy
y
)
Ψ
trans
= c
_
ˆ u
ˆ v
_
e
ik
+
x
+ d
_
ˆ v

ˆ u

_
e
−ik

x
, (5.8)
where k
±
= k
Fx
±α; (ˆ u

, ˆ v

) differs from (ˆ u, ˆ v) on the values of ∆ due to different directions
of k
F
. Similarly, we have the wave functions of the incident and reflected particles to be
Ψ
inc
=
_
1
0
_
e
iq
+
x
, (5.9a)
Ψ
ref
= a
_
0
1
_
e
iq

x
+ b
_
1
0
_
e
−iq
+
x
, (5.9b)
where q
±
= k
Fx
±β and β = mE/k
Fx
.
To determine the coefficients a, b, c and d in the wave functions, we need to consult with
the boundary conditions,
Ψ
N
[
x=0
= Ψ
S
[
x=0
≡ Ψ(0), (5.10a)

2m
_
∂Ψ
S
∂x

∂Ψ
N
∂x

¸
¸
¸
x=0
= UΨ(0), (5.10b)
where Ψ
N
and Ψ
S
are the wave functions of N and S sides, respectively. In the approximation
53
of k
±
≈ q
±
≈ k
Fx
, we find
a(E, θ) =
cos
2
θ
η
+
(cos
2
θ + z
2
) −η

z
2
, (5.11a)
b(E, θ) = −
z(z + i cos θ)(η
+
−η

)
η
+
(cos
2
θ + z
2
) −η

z
2
, (5.11b)
η
±
=
E ±
_
E
2
−[∆(θ
±
)[
2



±
)
, (5.11c)
where z = mU/k
F
is a dimensionless barrier-strength parameter, θ
±
= θ ± δ and ∆(θ
±
)
corresponds the order parameter experienced by the transmitted electron- and hole-like QPs.
By Landauer-B¨ uttiker formula [88, 89], the differential conductances of the N/S and N/N
junctions at zero temperature are subsequently given by
G
ns
= −
e
2
π
_
π/2
−π/2
dθ (1 +[a(E, θ)[
2
−[b(E, θ)[
2
), (5.12a)
G
nn
= −
e
2
π
_
π/2
−π/2
dθ (1 −[b(+∞, θ)[
2
), (5.12b)
respectively, and we define the normalized conductance G(E = eV ) = G
ns
/G
nn
. When
the voltage V < 0, we can make particle-hole transformation and the same result for the
conductance is obtained.
Numerical results of the N/(BCS superconductor) junction are presented in Figs. 1.7 and
1.8 [78, 90]. From there, we find that in the tunneling limit (z →∞), the conductance curves
coincide with the DOS for the cases of s-wave superconductor and d-wave superconductor
with (100) contact. But for d-wave superconductor with (110) contact, the tunneling
spectrum shows a zero-bias conductance peak (ZBCP) and apparently it does not agree
with the DOS. As mentioned in Sec. 1.2, this peak is due to the formation of Andreev bound
states (ABSs).
The ABSs can be understood in a simpler model with a superconductor in the region
x ≥ 0 and an insulator (or vacuum) in the region x < 0. In the superconductor region,
bound states (which decays to zero as x →∞) occur when [E[ < [∆(k
F
)[ and thus α (5.6)
becomes an imaginary number α = iγ. The wave function is still of the form by Eq. (5.8)
while the boundary condition is replaced by
Ψ[
x=0
= 0. (5.13)
54
This condition yields
∆(θ
+
)
∆(θ

)
=
E −i
_

2

+
) −E
2
E + i
_

2


) −E
2
. (5.14)
A solution exists for the d-wave (110) case where ∆(θ
+
) = −∆(θ

) and it is E = 0 where
the conductance peak is shown in the tunneling spectrum.
5.2 The conductance characteristics of the
Fulde-Ferrell state case
In this section we will apply the BTK theory to the N/(FF superconductor) junction. As in
the BCS case, BdG equations will be used. Because the FF state is induced by the Zeeman
field, spin components of electron should be regarded. From the mean field Hamiltonian
(4.2), we obtain the BdG equation in the presence of Zeeman field
Eu
σ
(x) = (
ˆ
h
0
+ σµ
0
B)u
σ
(x) +
_
dx

∆(s, r)v
σ
(x

), (5.15a)
Ev
σ
(x) = −(
ˆ
h
0
+ σµ
0
B)v
σ
(x) +
_
dx



(s, r)u
σ
(x

), (5.15b)
where ∆(s, r) =
_
dke
ik·s
˜
∆(k, r)e
i2q·r
and
˜
∆(k, r) = ∆(k)Θ(x). Here, q is determined by
minimizing the ground-state energy [Eq. (4.11)]. To avoid accommodating super/normal
current conversion at the N/S interface, which may require a nontrivial modification of the
order parameter structure near the interface, we assume that q is parallel to the N/S interface
at x = 0; this choice makes theoretical analysis simpler and comparison to experiments easier.
In the WKB approximation, the BdG equations have the special solutions of the form,
_
u
σ
v
σ
_
= e
ik
F
·x
_
e
iq·x
˜ u
σ
e
−iq·x
˜ u
σ
_
, (5.16)
where ˜ u
σ
and ˜ v
σ
obey the Andreev equations
˜ u
σ
= −
i(k
F
+q)
m
∇˜ u
σ
+ ∆(k
F
)Θ(x)˜ v
σ
, (5.17a)
˜ v
σ
=
i(k
F
−q)
m
∇˜ v
σ
+ ∆

(k
F
)Θ(x)˜ u
σ
, (5.17b)
where = E−σµ
0
B−qk
F
/m. The eigenenergy E is symmetric about E = σµ
0
B+qk
F
/m
instead of zero in the BCS case shown in Fig. 5.1. These equations are similar to those
of Ref. [122], where the authors studied conductance characteristics in the presence of a
supercurrent along the junction (note that the q/∆
0
in Ref. [122] is equal to Q/2 of this
55
work). Since the QPs of the two spin species are uncoupled, the conductance will simply be
the average over the two spin components:
G
ns
=
1
2
(G
+
ns
+ G

ns
),
and the same for G
nn
. For simplicity, we will drop the spin index when there is no ambiguity.
The conductances of each spin species are given by Eqs. (5.12) and (5.11) except that E is
replaced by in Eq. (5.11c).
We give the normalized tunneling conductance of the FF states in both s- and d-wave
superconductors with the arrangement of q parallel to the N/S interface in Figs. 5.2 – 5.4 ,
and also show the spin splitting effect of the tunneling conductance at a large z = 5.0 in
Fig. 5.5. In Fig. 5.6, we give the conductance of the competing uniform BCS states at the
critical fields for both pair types of superconductors. Note that the Zeeman splitting for the
s-wave case shown in Fig. 5.6(a) reproduces the well-known results reviewed in Ref. [123]
and the z = 0 results given in Ref. [124].
We start our discussion with an s-wave superconductor or a d-wave superconductor
with (100) contact, where there are no ABSs; thus the conductances are determined by
the bulk quasiparticles. We note that, in the arrangement considered here, due to the
effect of pair momentum, the conductance curves at large z seem to no longer coincide
with the corresponding electron DOS for either case. [Compare Figs 5.2(d), 5.3(d), and
5.4(d) with Figs. 4.6 (a), (b), and (c).] At first sight, this appears to be against our
intuitive understanding of what the NSJ conductance at high-barrier limit (tunneling limit)
is supposed to be measuring; we now resolve this issue below.
In the arrangement of NSJs considered here, the applied voltage and the measured current
are both along a fixed direction in the conducting plane that is normal to the N/S interface.
Thus we realize that the junction conductance in the high-barrier-strength limit is actually
measuring a cos
2
θ-weighted DOS. That is, the QPs of various momenta k on the 2D Fermi
surface (i.e., circle) do not all make equal contributions to the junction conductance, but
should be weighted by cos
2
θ where θ is the angle between k and the current direction x.
The weighted DOS [ρ
w
(E)] measured in the high-z-limit junction conductance is therefore:
ρ
w
(E)
ρ
n
(0)
=
1
π
_

0
dθ ˜ ρ
e
(E, θ)[ cos θ[
2
. (5.18)
In the uniform BCS state (without involving ABSs), such weighted average simply returns
56
Figure 5.2: The normalized conductance vs voltage for normal-metal/s-wave FF super-
conductor junction: (a) z = 0, (b) z = 0.5, (c) z = 1.0, (d) z = 5.0. Solid, H = 0.704,
Q = 0.804; dash, H = 0.8, Q = 0.892; dot, H = 0.9, Q = 0.952.
to the original DOS, i.e., Eq. (5.18) is the same as Eq. (4.16) in the cases studied here.
This is because the order parameter is isotropic over the momentum space for an s-wave
superconductor, while for an N/(d-wave superconductor) junction with (100) contact, the
order parameter is symmetric about θ = ±π/4 so that the partial DOS of a fixed direction
is also symmetric about the same line. Because the cos
2
θ weighting factor adds up to be
1 for two angles that are symmetric about this line, we thus have the weighted DOS by
high-z junction conductance to be again the same as the un-weighted DOS [90]. However,
the situation is very different in the FF state, because this kind of symmetry is broken by
the pair momentum which causes a θ-dependent energy shift, thus the two kinds of DOS are
no longer the same. This is illustrated in Fig. 5.7. It is clear from this figure that the high-z
junction conductance measures the cos
2
θ-weighted DOS, and not the un-weighted DOS in
57
Figure 5.3: Same as Fig. 5.2 except it is now for normal-metal/d-wave FF superconductor
junction with (100) contact. Solid, H = 0.78, Q = 0.808; dash, H = 0.88, Q = 0.9.
general. (The slight discrepancy between the tunneling conductance and the weighted DOS
is because z = 5.0 is still not high enough.)
The most prominent features of the high-z junction conductance of an N/(d-wave FF
superconductor) with (110) contact are due to the ABSs, which are the main focus of the
present work. To interpret these features we need to understand how the pair momentum
affects the spectra of the ABSs, which is the subject of the next section.
5.3 Andreev bound states in the d-wave Fulde-Ferrell
superconductor with (110) junction
As studied in Sec. 5.1, for an N/(d-wave superconductor) junction with (110) contact, a
ZBCP is expected due to the formation of ABSs at the junction interface. Thus for an N/(d-
wave superconductor in FF state) junction with (110) contact and q along (1
¯
10), we need to
58
Figure 5.4: Same as Fig. 5.2 except it is now for normal-metal/d-wave FF superconductor
junction with (110) contact. Solid, H = 0.544, Q = 0.608; dash, H = 0.68, Q = 0.816; dot,
H = 0.776, Q = 0.94.
understand the effects of µ
0
B and q on the spectra of ABSs before we can understand the
conductance characteristics for this junction.
A parallel analysis of the ABSs can be made on the FF state case as in Sec. 5.1, except
E is replaced by . Similar to the BCS state case, for s-wave superconductor and d-wave
superconductor with (100) contact, there are no ABSs solutions. For d-wave superconductor
with (110) contact, we have one solution at = 0 for each −k
F
< k
Fy
< k
F
, or
E = σµ
0
B + qk
Fy
/m. (5.19)
We see that the energies of the ABSs are first split by the Zeeman energy to σµ
0
B and then,
shifted by an amount proportional to both the pair momentum q and the sine of the incident
angle θ (which ranges between −90

and +90

); the combined results of them will lead to a
splitting, shifting, and broadening of the ZBCP, which we now analyze. With (110) contact,
59
Figure 5.5: The normalized conductance G (solid line) and its two spin components G
±
(dashed line for spin-up, dash-dotted line for spin-down) at a large z = 5.0. (a) s-wave with
H = 0.704; (b) d-wave with q along antinodal direction and H = 0.78; (c) d-wave with q
along nodal direction and H = 0.544.
60
Figure 5.6: The normalized conductance vs voltage for the competing uniform BCS states
at the critical fields with different barrier intensities z. (a) s-wave superconductor with
H = 0.704; (b) d-wave superconductor with H = 0.544 and (110) contact.
the order parameter is proportional to sin 2θ, which vanishes at θ = 0, and ±90

, implying
that near these special values there are either no ABSs, or their contributions to conductance
will be very weak because these are very loosely bound states; the dominant contributions
come from ABSs with θ around ±π/4 (or around gap maxima); the energy shift of these
states due to pair momenta are in opposite direction when the sign of θ are different. Thus for
sufficiently large q, which is the case here, the junction conductance at positive bias should
exhibit two peaks, one on each side of µ
0
B, and a dip at the Zeeman field energy E = µ
0
B.
(The conductance has a symmetry about zero bias in the approximation adopted here, so we
do not need to consider negative bias.) For the two peaks, the one on the right side (E
p+
)
arises from 0 < θ < π/2, whereas the one on the left side (E
p−
) arises from −π/2 < θ < 0.
If only spin-up QPs are considered, the two peaks are of equal strength and equal distance
from the dip as illustrated in the dashed line of Fig. 5.5(c). When the contributions from the
QPs of both spin species are summed up, the two peaks will not be symmetric about the dip
(E
p−
will be shifted slightly to the right, but the influence on E
p+
and the dip is negligible),
and a weak peak at zero bias emerges [see Fig. 5.5(c)]. To locate the position of the peak
E
p+
, we first notice from the expression of used in calculating the conductance [Eqs. (5.11)
and (5.12)] that the bias voltage difference between the peak and the dip, δE
p
= [E
p+
−µ
0
B[,
61
Figure 5.7: Comparison of the high-z(=5.0) junction conductance G
ns
(circles with a thin
dotted line through them) with the un-weighted (dashed line) and cos
2
θ-weighted (solid line)
DOS for (a) an N/(d-wave BCS superconductor) junction with (100) contact; (b) an N/(s-
wave FF superconductor) junction, at H = 704; and (c) an N/(d-wave FF superconductor)
junction with (100) contact and q along (010), at H = 0.78.
62
should be a function of qv
F
in the high-z limit and vanishes when the pair momentum is
zero. Numerically, therefore we can consider a simplified situation where there exists the
pair momentum without Zeeman field (such as in Ref. [122]) and calculate this difference as
a function of the pair momentum. The result is shown in Fig. 5.8. By fitting the data to a
straight line through the origin, we obtain
E
p+
≈ µ
0
B +
2
3
qv
F
. (5.20)
Thus, by measuring the bias voltages of the peak and the dip in the high-z junction
conductance with (110) contact, and in particular the difference between them, we can obtain
a good estimate of q. We note that without this pair momentum, we would have all ABSs at
energies E = σµ
0
B, which would have given rise to one sharp peak only at eV = µ
0
B in the
same conductance plot, as shown in Fig. 5.6(b). Therefore we conclude that the signature
of the FF state is clearly revealed in the junction conductance characteristics, especially at
high z, but the conductance behaviors at low z for all three cases studied here are also quite
novel, since they are quite different from the corresponding results for uniform s- or d-wave
superconductors.
5.4 Summary and Discussion
In this chapter we have studied the conductance characteristics of a junction between a
normal metal and a superconductor in the Fulde-Ferrell (FF) state, using the Blonder-
Tinkham-Klapwijk formalism. We have studied both s- and d-wave cases, and for the latter
case, we considered junctions along both the nodal [(110)] and antinodal [(100)] directions.
The conductance characteristics of a micro-constriction is presumably easiest to under-
stand in the high tunneling-barrier limit, when the conductance should give information
about DOS of the superconductor. In the FF phase, the Zeeman field should split the con-
tributions to the conductance by the spin-up and -down QPs, i.e., shifting their contributions
by the Zeeman energy in opposite directions. In addition, for QPs of either spin species, their
contributions should be shifted by an amount proportional to the pair momentum, with a
proportionality constant depending on the cosine of the angle between its kinetic momentum
and the pair momentum. This proportionality constant can range from a negative maximum
to a positive maximum. Thus we found the effect of q to be a broadening rather than a
shift. One would expect similar effects to occur on the contributions by the ABSs, resulting
63
Figure 5.8: The bias voltage difference of the tunneling conductance peak (E = E
p+
) and
the dip (E = µ
0
B) at large z(=20), δE
p
= [E
p+
−µ
0
B[, as a function of qv
F
(both in unit of

q
) for d-wave superconductor with (110) contact. The value range of qv
F
/∆
q
is extended to
0 – 20, while the physical range is about 1.5 – 7.7. Solid line is the linear fit of the numerical
data, and its slope is 0.667 ± 0.001. The inset is an illustration of the voltage difference
measured in the experiment.
in the shift and broadening of the ZBCP. Thus, in the high-barrier-limit, one might (naively)
expect the tunneling spectrum of d-wave superconductor with (110) contact to be composed
of broadened ZBCP’s centered around ±µ
0
B. In our numerical results, we find instead that
the high-barrier-limit tunneling conductance of d-wave superconductors with (110) contact
has a dip at the Zeeman energy, with one round peak on each side of it, and also another
weak peak at exactly zero energy. This is quite different from the situation of the BCS
state in the presence of a Zeeman field, in which case one expects the sharp ZBCP to be
shifted to ±µ
0
B, as well as the naive expectation above. The dip and the two round peaks
can be understood as due to the fact that the q values appearing here are so large that
they are already beyond the critical value obtained in Ref. [122], which studied directly the
current effect on the conductance characteristics in the absence of a Zeeman field. For such
large q values, their effect on the ZBCP in the high-barrier-limit tunneling conductance is
to split the ZBCP into two round peaks with a center dip. It is worth noting that such high
64
values of q are not accessible through direct application of a supercurrent. The weak peak
at zero energy turns out to be the result of summing up spin-up and -down contributions.
Furthermore, numerical analysis shows that the bias voltage difference between the dip and
the round peak on its right side is proportional to the pair momentum and thus gives us a
simple way to estimate the pair momentum for d-wave superconductor with (110) contact.
For s-wave superconductor and d-wave superconductor with (100) contact, there is no
ABS and the conductance is due to contributions from bulk quasiparticles exclusively. In
these cases we have also found conductance features in the FF superconductors that are
very different from the BCS superconductors. We found that because of the energy shift
due to the pair momentum (which breaks the spatial symmetries in the original system), the
conductance in the high barrier limit is no longer the same as the electron DOS; instead, it
reflects a directionally-weighted DOS. In principle, by comparing the conductance and the
bulk DOS [125, 113, 35, 118] that are measured by other means (such as tunneling along the
c-direction instead of an in-plane direction discussed here), one can also distinguish between
BCS and FF states.
65
CHAPTER 6
CONCLUSION
In this dissertation, we studied the transport properties of two kinds of “unconventional”
superconductors, one is the p-wave superconductor with disorder and the other is the
Fulde-Ferrell-Larkin-Ovchinnikov (FFLO) superconductor. They are distinguished from
the conventional s-wave superconductor in two different ways which are reflected on the
order parameter of the superconductor. The former one breaks both time-reversal and spin-
rotation symmetries, while there is spatial variation of phase or sign in the order parameter
of the latter one. It is known that the currents in the superconductor are carried by Cooper
pairs and quasiparticles, whereas the former do not transmit the spin current or thermal
flow. The behaviors of the quasiparticles are described by the Bogoliubov-de Gennes (BdG)
equations and are consequently associated with the order parameter of the superconductor.
All these motivated our questions of what “unconventional” character will be shown in
the transport properties of these superconductors. In this work, we considered the spin
quantum Hall transitions in p-wave superconductors and the conductance spectra of normal
metal/FFLO superconductor junctions individually.
For the specified p
x
+ ip
y
-wave superconductor, the z-component of the total spin is
conserved and therefore it allows us to consider the spin quantum Hall effect induced by the
gradient of a Zeeman field in analogy to the usual quantum Hall effect. This system supports
a spin quantum Hall phase with spin Hall conductance one in proper unit, and also an spin
insulating phase. The spin quantum Hall phase arises from the (spin-)current carrying states
which are at two critical energies with a total Chern number +1 and −1, respectively, in
the presence of disorder. Phase transitions between these two phases may be induced either
by applying and sweeping a Zeeman field, or by changing the disorder strength. The field-
driven transition is found to have the same critical behavior as the integer quantum Hall
66
transition of non-interacting electrons. Unfortunately, the disorder-driven transition in the
absence of Zeeman field is out of our current computational ability, though we are expecting
it to show different critical properties. As the disorder strength increases, the two critical
energies will merge at E = 0 and finally vanish at certain critical disorder strength. In this
way, all quasiparticle states are localized. In our model, the phase transition between the
spin quantum Hall and the insulating phases is direct and no explicit evidence of metallic
phase is found.
In our study of the transport properties in the normal metal/FFLO superconductor
junctions, we calculated the conductance with barrier strength ranging from the point contact
limit to the tunneling limit for both s- and d
x
2
−y
2-wave superconductors in Fulde-Ferrell
states. As we know, in the absence of Zeeman field and pair momentum, there is a zero-bias
conductance peak (ZBCP) in the tunneling spectrum of the d-wave superconductor with
(110) contact, due to the formation of Andreev bound states (ABSs). With Zeeman field
imposed on the superconductor alone, the ZBCP will be split into two peaks on the opposite
sides of E = 0 with an equal distance (µ
0
B) for spin-up and -down quasiparticles. The
pair momentum q will further shift each peak a distance proportional to its value and the
proportionality constant depends on the cosine of the angle between the pair momentum
and the kinetic momentum of the quasiparticle. In this way, the peak of spin-up (or -down)
quasiparticles is deformed into two round peaks surrounding a dip at the Zeeman energy.
Though the two round peaks are supposed to be symmetric about the corresponding dip,
the superposition of the contributions from both spin-up and -down quasiparticles will move
their positions an insignificant amount and also create a weak peak at E = 0. By measuring
the bias voltage difference between the dip (E ≈ µ
0
B) and the round peak on its right
side, we can estimate the pair momentum of the d-wave superconductor with (110) contact.
Moreover, we find the tunneling conductance does not agree with the bulk density of states
(DOS) for both s-wave and d-wave (100) cases, though there are no ABSs in these cases.
This is because the pair momentum breaks the spatial symmetries in the original system and
causes energy shift in the tunneling spectrum. In such situations the tunneling conductance
reflects a directionally-weighted DOS alternatively. Though the cases of Larkin-Ovchinnikov
states are not investigated in the present work (and will be left for future work), we expect
that one can separate BCS and FFLO states by comparing the conductance and the bulk
DOS obtained via other measurements.
67
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73
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
Qinghong Cui
National High Magnetic Field Laboratory and
Department of Physics, Florida State University (850) 644-8053
Tallahassee, FL 32310 cui@magnet.fsu.edu
EDUCATION
2001 – 2007 Ph.D., Department of Physics
Florida State University, Tallahassee, USA
Thesis: Transport Properties in Unconventional Superconductors
Advisor: Prof. Kun Yang
1996 – 2001 B.E., Department of Electronic Engineering and Information Science
University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, China
Thesis: Numerical Analysis of Dispersion Properties of Chiral Layered
Waveguide
Advisor: Prof. Shan-Jia Xu
EXPERIENCE
• 2002 – present: Graduate research assistant at National High Magnetic Field Labo-
ratory and Department of Physics, Florida State University, under the supervision of
Dr. Kun Yang.
• Feb, 2006 – May, 2006: Affiliate at Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, Univer-
sity of California at Santa Barbara, in the programs:
– Spintronics
– Topological Phases and Quantum Computation
• 2001 – 2005: Teaching assistant at Department of Physics, Florida State University.
74
– Grader of Quantum Mechanics A, Fall 2001
– Grader of Quantum Mechanics B, Spring 2002
– Grader of Thermal and Statistical Physics, Spring 2002
– Lab instructor of General Physics B, Summer 2002
– Grader of Condensed Matter Physics I, Fall 2005
– Grader of Comprehensive Exam Preparation Course, Fall 2005
PUBLICATIONS
• Q. Cui, C.-R. Hu, J.Y.T. Wei, and K. Yang, Conductance characteristics between a
normal metal and a two-dimensional Fulde-Ferrell-Larkin-Ovchinnikov superconductor:
the Fulde-Ferrell state, Phys. Rev. B 73, 214514 (2006).
• Q. Cui, X. Wan, and K. Yang, Numerical study of spin quantum Hall transitions in
superconductors with broken time-reversal symmetry, Phys. Rev. B, 70, 094506 (2004).
PRESENTATION
• Conductance characteristics between a normal metal and a two-dimensional Fulde-
Ferrell-Larkin-Ovchinnikov superconductor, contributed talk given at American Phys-
ical Society March Meeting, Baltimore, MD (2006).
75

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