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Interfacial roughness and proximity effects in superconductor/ferromagnet CuNi/Nb heterostructures
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We report an investigation of the structural and electronic properties of hybrid superconductor/ferromagnet (S/F) bilayers of composition Nb/Cu60Ni40 prepared by magnetron sputtering. X-ray and neutron reflectometry show that both the overall interfacial roughness and vertical correlations of the roughness of different interfaces are lower for heterostructures deposited on Al2O3() substrates than for those deposited on Si(111). Mutual inductance experiments were then used to study the influence of the interfacial roughness on the superconducting transition temperature, TC. These measurements revealed a ∼4% higher TC in heterostructures deposited on Al2O3, compared to those on Si. We attribute this effect to a higher mean-free path of electrons in the S layer, caused by a suppression of diffusive scattering at the interfaces. However, the dependence of the TC on the thickness of the ferromagnetic layer is not significantly different in the two systems, indicating a weak influence of the interfacial roughness on the transparency for Cooper pairs.
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