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Quasiparticle gaps in multiprobe Majorana nanowires

TitleQuasiparticle gaps in multiprobe Majorana nanowires
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsY. Huang, J. D. Sau, T. D. Stanescu, and S. Das Sarma
Date PublishedDEC 18

We theoretically study a spin-orbit-coupled nanowire proximitized by a superconductor in the presence of an externally applied Zeeman field ({''}Majorana nanowire{''}) with zero-energy Majorana bound states localized at the two ends of the wire when the Zeeman spin splitting is large enough for the system to enter the topological phase. The specific physics of interest in the current work is the effect of having several tunnel probes attached to the wire along its length. Such tunnel probes should allow, as a matter of principle, one to observe both the predicted bulk superconducting gap closing and opening associated with the topological quantum phase transition as well as the Majorana bound states at the wire ends showing up as zero-bias conductance peaks, depending on which probes are used for the tunneling spectroscopy measurement. Because of the possible invasive nature of the tunnel probes, producing local potential fluctuations in the nanowire, we find the physical situation to be quite complex. In particular, depending on the details of the tunnel barrier operational at the probes, the Majorana nanowire could manifest additional low-energy Andreev bound states which will manifest their own almost-zero-bias peaks, complicating the interpretation of the tunneling data in multiprobe Majorana nanowires. We use two complementary microscopic models to simulate the probes, finding that the tunneling conductance spectrum depends rather sensitively on the details of the tunnel barriers at the probes, but in some situations it should be possible to observe the Majorana bound-state-induced zero-bias conductance peak at the wire ends along with the gap closing and opening features associated with the bulk topological quantum phase transition in the multiprobe Majorana nanowires. Our detailed numerical results indicate that such a system should also be capable of directly manifesting the nonlocal conductance correlations arising from Majorana bound states at the two ends of the nanowire. We apply our general analysis to simulate a recent multiprobe nanowire experiment commenting on the nature of the quasiparticle gaps likely controlling the experimental observations.