The chemical, structural, and electrical properties of niobium-silicon, niobium-germanium, and YBCO-dielectric interfaces are characterized. Reduction in the concentration of interfacial defects in these structures can improve the performance of (i) many devices including low-loss coplanar, microstrip, and stripline microwave resonators used in next-generation cryogenic communication, sensor, and quantum information technologies and (ii) layers used in device isolation, inter-wiring dielectrics, and passivation in microwave and Josephson junction circuit fabrication.
Methods were developed to synthesize amorphous-Ge (a-Ge) and homoepitaxial-Si dielectric thin-films with loss tangents of 1–2×10 -6 and 0.6–2×10 -5 at near single-photon powers and sub-Kelvin temperatures (≈40 mK), making them potentially a better choice over undoped silicon and sapphire substrates used in quantum devices. The Nb/Ge interface has 20 nm of chemical intermixing, which is reduced by a factor of four using 10 nm Ta diffusion layers. Niobium coplanar resonators using this structure exhibit reduced microwave losses.
The nature and concentration of defects near Nb-Si interfaces prepared with commonly-used Si surface treatments were characterized. All samples have H, C, O, F, and Cl in the Si within 50 nm of the interface, and electrically active defects with activation energies of 0.147, 0.194, 0.247, 0.339, and 0.556 eV above the valence band maximum (E vbm ), with concentrations dominated by a hole trap at E vbm +0.556 eV (presumably Nb Si ). The optimum surface treatment is an HF etch followed by an in-situ 100 eV Ar ion mill. RCA etches, and higher energy ion milling processes increase the concentration of electrically active defects.
A thin SrTiO 3 buffer layer used in YBa 2 Cu 3 O 7-δ superconductor/high-performance Ba(Zn 1/3 Ta 2/3 )O 3 and Ba(Cd 1/3 Ta 2/3 )O 3 microwave dielectric trilayers improves the structural quality of the layers and results in 90 K superconductor critical temperatures. This advance enables the production of more compact high-temperature superconductor capacitors, inductors, and microwave microstrip and stripline devices.