Topological superconductivity in semiconductor-superconductor-magnetic-insulator heterostructures

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Hybrid superconductor-semiconductor heterostructures are promising platforms for realizing topological superconductors and exploring Majorana bound state physics. Motivated by recent experimental progress, we theoretically study how magnetic insulators offer an alternative to the use of external magnetic fields for reaching the topological regime. We consider different setups, where (1) the magnetic insulator induces an exchange field in the superconductor, which leads to a splitting in the semiconductor by proximity effect, and (2) the magnetic insulator acts as a spin-filter tunnel barrier between the superconductor and the semiconductor. We show that the spin splitting in the superconductor alone cannot induce a topological transition in the semiconductor. To overcome this limitation, we propose to use a spin-filter barrier that enhances the magnetic exchange and provides a mechanism for a topological phase transition. Moreover, the spin-dependent tunneling introduces a strong dependence on the band alignment, which can be crucial in quantum-confined systems. This mechanism opens up a route towards networks of topological wires with fewer constraints on device geometry compared to previous devices that require external magnetic fields.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104508
JournalPhysical Review B
Issue number10
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2021

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