The superconductor proximity effect in systems comprising metallic nanoparticles (NPs) and molecules (NP/molecule/superconductor heterostructure) is an intriguing phenomenon that gives rise to important questions, from both fundamental and applicative perspectives, about the nature of Andreev reflections in nanoscale NPs and molecules and the interplay between the different energy scales, which remain hotly debated. In recent studies of such systems, a unique proximity effect was observed, manifested by an enhancement, rather than reduction, of the superconductor critical temperature, TC, which can be related to higher order Andreev reflections of Cooper pairs that couple through the organic molecule linkers. In the present study, we investigate the proximity effect in such hybrid systems, using two types of superconducting films (Nb0.17Re0.83 and Nb), coupled Au or Ag NPs, via chiral or non-chiral molecule linkers. Non-chiral linkers lead to an enhancement of TC after NP attachment, in agreement with previous results, while chiral linkers cause a decrease in TC following NP adsorption. The results with chiral linkers can be explained by the following possible factors: the magnetic-like behavior that chiral molecules exhibit owing to their spin-filtering properties, which should enhance pair breaking, and strong spin-orbit coupling at the linker/NP interface that affects Andreev reflections between the superconductor and the NP and acts to reduce TC within a two-band model we discuss. The insight gained from this work into the interaction between chiral molecules and superconductors is of importance for applications in chiral-based superconducting spintronics.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported in parts by the Niedersachsen Ministry of Science and Culture and a grant from the Academia Sinica—Hebrew University Research Program (O.M. and Y.P). O.M. thanks support from the Harry de Jur Chair in Applied Science. J.W.A.R. acknowledges the Royal Society and the EPSRC through an EPSRC-JSPS Core-to-Core (EP/P026311/1) and Programme Grant No. (EP/N017242/1).
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