Does the boson peak survive in an ultrathin oxide glass?

Bulk glasses exhibit extra vibrational modes at low energies, known as the boson peak. The microscopic dynamics in nanoscale alumina impact the performance of qubits and other superconducting devices, however the existence of the boson peak in these glasses has not been previously measured. Here we report neutron spectroscopy on Al/Al2O3−x nanoparticles consisting of spherical metallic cores from 20 to 1000 nm surrounded by a 3.5 nm thick alumina glass. An intense low-energy peak is observed at ωBP = 2.8 ± 0.6 meV for highly oxidised particles, concurrent with an excess in the density of states. The intensity of the peak scales inversely with particle size and oxide fraction indicating a surface origin, and is red-shifted by 3 meV with respect to the van-Hove singularity of γ-phase Al2O3−x nanocrystals. Molecular dynamics simulations of α-Al2O3−x, γ-Al2O3−x and a-Al2O3−x show that the observed boson peak is a signature of the ultrathin glass surface, and the frequency is softened compared to that of the hypothetical bulk glass.
Bosons, Glass, Vibrational states, Dynamics, Qubits, Neutron spectroscopy, Nanoparticles
Cortie, D. L., Cyster, M. J., Smith, J. S., Iles, G. N., Wang, X. L., Mitchell, D. R. G., ... & Cole, J. H. (2019). Does the boson peak survive in an ultrathin oxide glass?. Arxiv Condensed Matter, arXiv:1907.12200v1. doi:10.48550/arXiv.1907.12200