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ZrNb(CO) RF Superconducting Thin Film with High Critical Temperature in the Theoretical Limit

Cornell Affiliated Author(s)


Z. Sun
T. Oseroff
Z. Baraissov
D.K. Dare
K. Howard
B. Francis
A.C. Hire
N. Sitaraman
T.A. Arias
M.K. Transtrum
R. Hennig
M.O. Thompson
D.A. Muller
M.U. Liepe


Superconducting radio-frequency (SRF) resonators are critical components for particle accelerator applications, such as free-electron lasers, and for emerging technologies in quantum computing. Developing advanced materials and their deposition processes to produce RF superconductors that yield nΩ surface resistances is a key metric for the wider adoption of SRF technology. Here, ZrNb(CO) RF superconducting films with high critical temperatures (Tc) achieved for the first time under ambient pressure are reported. The attainment of a Tc near the theoretical limit for this material without applied pressure is promising for its use in practical applications. A range of Tc, likely arising from Zr doping variation, may allow a tunable superconducting coherence length that lowers the sensitivity to material defects when an ultra-low surface resistance is required. The ZrNb(CO) films are synthesized using a low-temperature (100 – 200 °C) electrochemical recipe combined with thermal annealing. The phase transformation as a function of annealing temperature and time is optimized by the evaporated Zr-Nb diffusion couples. Through phase control, one avoids hexagonal Zr phases that are equilibrium-stable but degrade Tc. X-ray and electron diffraction combined with photoelectron spectroscopy reveal a system containing cubic β-ZrNb mixed with rocksalt NbC and low-dielectric-loss ZrO2. Proof-of-concept RF performance of ZrNb(CO) on an SRF sample test system is demonstrated. BCS resistance trends lower than reference Nb, while quench fields occur at approximately 35 mT. The results demonstrate the potential of ZrNb(CO) thin films for particle accelerators and other SRF applications. © 2023 The Authors. Advanced Electronic Materials published by Wiley-VCH GmbH.

Date Published


Advanced Electronic Materials








Group (Lab)

Tomas Arias Group

Funding Source


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