Physical Review B

Half-integer Shapiro steps in strong ferromagnetic Josephson junctions

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We report the experimental observation of half-integer Shapiro steps in the strong ferromagnetic Josephson junction (Nb-NiFe-Nb) by investigating the current-phase relation under radio-frequency microwave excitation. The half-integer Shapiro steps are robust in a wide temperature range from T=4 to 7 K. The half-integer Shapiro steps could be attributed to the coexistence of 0 and π states in the strong ferromagnetic NiFe Josephson junctions with the spatial variation of the NiFe thickness. This scenario is also supported by the high-resolution transmission electron microscopy characterization of the Nb/NiFe/Nb junction.