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Detecting topological superconductivity using low-frequency doubled Shapiro steps

TitleDetecting topological superconductivity using low-frequency doubled Shapiro steps
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsJ. D. Sau, and F.. Setiawan
Date PublishedFEB 3

The fractional Josephson effect has been observed in many instances as a signature of a topological superconducting state containing zero-energy Majorana modes. We present a nontopological scenario which can produce a fractional Josephson effect generically in semiconductor-based Josephson junctions, namely, a resonant impurity bound state weakly coupled to a highly transparent channel. We show that the fractional ac Josephson effect can be generated by the Landau-Zener processes which flip the electron occupancy of the impurity bound state. The Josephson effect signature for Majorana modes become distinct from this nontopological scenario only at low frequency. We prove that a variant of the fractional ac Josephson effect, namely, the low-frequency doubled Shapiro steps, can provide a more reliable signature of the topological superconducting state.