End States and Subgap Structure in Proximity-Coupled Chains of Magnetic Adatoms

Phys Rev Lett. 2015 Nov 6;115(19):197204. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.115.197204. Epub 2015 Nov 4.


A recent experiment [Nadj-Perge et al., Science 346, 602 (2014)] provides evidence for Majorana zero modes in iron (Fe) chains on the superconducting Pb(110) surface. Here, we study this system by scanning tunneling microscopy using superconducting tips. This high-resolution technique resolves a rich subgap structure, including zero-energy excitations in some chains. We compare the symmetry properties of the data under voltage reversal against theoretical expectations and provide evidence that the putative Majorana signature overlaps with a previously unresolved low-energy resonance. Interpreting the data within a Majorana framework suggests that the topological gap is smaller than previously extracted from experiment. Aided by model calculations, we also analyze higher-energy features of the subgap spectrum and their relation to high-bias peaks which we associate with the Fe d bands.