Reduction of the Superconducting Gap of Ultrathin Pb Islands Grown on Si(111)
The energy gap Delta of superconducting Pb islands grown on Si(111) was probed in situ between 5 and 60 monolayers by low-temperature scanning tunneling spectroscopy. Delta was found to decrease from its bulk value as a function of inverse island thickness. Corresponding T-c values, estimated using bulk gap-to-T-c ratio, are in quantitative agreement with ex situ magnetic susceptibility measurements, however, in strong contrast to previous scanning probe results. Layer-dependent ab initio density functional calculations for freestanding Pb films show that the electron-phonon coupling constant, determining T-c, decreases with diminishing film thickness.