Janis Erdmanis, Árpád Lukács, and Yuli V. Nazarov
Phys. Rev. B 106, 125422 – Published 22 September 2022
A generic semiclassical superconducting nanostructure connected to multiple superconducting terminals hosts a quasicontinuous spectrum of Andreev states. The spectrum is sensitive to the superconducting phases of the terminals. It can be either gapped or gapless depending on the point in the multidimensional parametric space of these phases. Special points in this space correspond to setting some terminals to the phase 0 and the rest to the phase of π. For a generic nanostructure, three distinct spectra come together in the vicinity of a special point: two gapped phases of different topology and a gapless phase separating the two by virtue of topological protection. In this paper, we show that a weak interaction manifesting as quantum fluctuations of superconducting phases drastically changes the spectrum in a narrow vicinity of a special point. We develop an interaction model and derive a universal generic quantum action that describes this situation. The action is complicated incorporating a nonlocal in time matrix order parameter, and its full analysis is beyond the scope of the present paper. Here, we identify and address two limits: the semiclassical one and the quantum one, concentrating on the first-order interaction correction in the last case. In both cases, we find that the interaction squeezes the domain of the gapless phase in the narrow vicinity of the point so the gapped phases tend to contact each other immediately defying the topological protection. We identify the domains of strong coupling where the perturbation theory does not work. In the gapless phase, we find the logarithmic divergence of the first-order corrections. This leads us to an interesting hypothesis: weak interaction might induce an exponentially small gap in the formerly gapless phase.