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Keywords:

  • DNA;
  • molecular templates;
  • macroscopic quantum tunneling;
  • nanofabrication;
  • superconducting nanowires

Abstract

The application of single molecules as templates for nanodevices is a promising direction for nanotechnology. We use suspended deoxyribonucleic acid molecules or single-walled carbon nanotubes as templates for fabricating superconducting devices and then study these devices at cryogenic temperatures. Because the resulting nanowires are extremely thin, comparable in diameter to the templating molecule itself, their electronic state is highly susceptible to thermal fluctuations. The most important family of these fluctuations are the collective ones, which take the form of Little's phase slips or ruptures of the many-electron organization. These phase slips break the quantum coherence of the superconducting condensate and render the wire slightly resistive (i.e., not fully superconducting), even at temperatures substantially lower than the critical temperature of the superconducting transition. At low temperatures, for which the thermal fluctuations are weak, we observe the effects of quantum fluctuations, which lead to the phenomenon of macroscopic quantum tunneling. The modern fabrication method of molecular templating, reviewed here, can be readily implemented to synthesize nanowires from other materials, such as normal metals, ferromagnetic alloys, and semiconductors.