Recombination-limited energy relaxation in a Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer superconductor

Phys Rev Lett. 2009 Jan 9;102(1):017003. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.102.017003. Epub 2009 Jan 7.


We study quasiparticle energy relaxation at subkelvin temperatures by injecting hot electrons into an Al island and measuring the energy flux from quasiparticles into phonons both in the superconducting and in the normal state. The data show strong reduction of the flux at low temperatures in the superconducting state, in qualitative agreement with the theory for clean superconductors. However, quantitatively the energy flux exceeds the theoretical predictions both in the superconducting and in the normal state, suggesting an enhanced or additional relaxation process.