Superconductor-insulator quantum phase transition
Institute of Solid State Physics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Akademika Osip'yana str. 2, Chernogolovka, Moscow Region, 142432, Russian Federation
The current understanding of the superconductor — insulator transition is discussed level by level in a cyclic spiral-like manner. At the first level, physical phenomena and processes are discussed which, while of no formal relevance to the topic of transitions, are important for their implementation and observation; these include superconductivity in low electron density materials, transport and magnetoresistance in superconducting island films and in highly resistive granular materials with superconducting grains, and the Berezinskii — Kosterlitz Thouless transition. The second level discusses and summarizes results from various microscopic approaches to the problem, whether based on the Bardeen — Cooper — Schrieffer theory (the disorder-induced reduction in the superconducting transition temperature; the key role of Coulomb blockade in high-resistance granular superconductors; superconducting fluctuations in a strong magnetic field) or on the theory of the Bose — Einstein condensation. A special discussion is given to phenomenological scaling theories. Experimental investigations, primarily transport measurements, make the contents of the third level and are for convenience classified by the type of material used (ultrathin films, variable composition materials, high-temperature superconductors, superconductor — poor metal transitions). As a separate topic, data on nonlinear phenomena near the superconductor — insulator transition are presented. At the final, summarizing, level the basic aspects of the problem are enumerated again to identify where further research is needed and how this research can be carried out. Some relatively new results, potentially of key importance in resolving the remaining problems, are also discussed.