Unconventional Meissner screening induced by chiral molecules in a conventional superconductor

Hen Alpern, Morten Amundsen, Roman Hartmann, Nir Sukenik, Alfredo Spuri, Shira Yochelis, Thomas Prokscha, Vitaly Gutkin, Yonathan Anahory, Elke Scheer, Jacob Linder, Zaher Salman, Oded Millo, Yossi Paltiel, Angelo Di Bernardo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The coupling of a superconductor (SC) to a different material often results in a system with unconventional superconducting properties. A conventional SC is a perfect diamagnet expelling magnetic fields out of its volume, a phenomenon known as the Meissner effect. Here, we show that the simple adsorption of a monolayer of chiral molecules (ChMs), which are nonmagnetic in solution, onto the surface of a conventional SC can markedly change its diamagnetic Meissner response. By measuring the internal magnetic field profile in superconducting Nb thin films under an applied transverse field by low-energy muon spin rotation spectroscopy, we demonstrate that the local field profile inside Nb is considerably modified upon molecular adsorption in a way that also depends on the applied field direction. The modification is not limited to the ChMs/Nb interface, but it is long ranged and occurs over a length scale comparable with the superconducting coherence length. Zero-field muon spin spectroscopy measurements in combination with our theoretical analysis show that odd-frequency spin-triplet states induced by the ChMs are responsible for the modification of the Meissner response observed inside Nb. These results indicate that a ChMs/SC system supports odd-frequency spin-triplet pairs due to the molecules acting as a spin-active layer, and therefore, they imply that such a system can be used as a simpler alternative to SC/ferromagnet or SC/topological insulator hybrids for the generation and manipulation of unconventional spin-triplet superconducting states.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number114801
JournalPhysical Review Materials
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021

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