The fractional a.c. Josephson effect in a semiconductor-superconductor nanowire as a signature of Majorana particles
Topological superconductors that support Majorana fermions have been predicted when one-dimensional semiconducting wires are coupled to a superconductor. Such excitations are expected to exhibit non-Abelian statistics and can be used to realize quantum gates that are topologically protected from local sources of decoherence. Here we report the observation of the fractional a.c. Josephson effect in a hybrid semiconductor-superconductor InSb/Nb nanowire junction, a hallmark of topological matter. When the junction is irradiated with a radiofrequency f0 in the absence of an external magnetic field, quantized voltage steps (Shapiro steps) with a height ∆V =hf0/2e are observed, as is expected for conventional superconductor junctions, where the supercurrent is carried by charge- 2e Cooper pairs. At high magnetic fields the height of the first Shapiro step is doubled to hf0/e, suggesting that the supercurrent is carried by charge- e quasiparticles. This is a unique signature of the Majorana fermions, predicted almost 80 years ago.