Nanostructuring Improves Vortex Pinning in Superconductors at Elevated Temperatures and Magnetic Fields
R. Córdoba1,2, T. I. Baturina3,4, J. Sesé1,2, A. Yu. Mironov3, J. M. De Teresa2,5, M. R. Ibarra1,2,5, D. A. Nasimov3, A. K. Gutakovskii3, A.V. Latyshev3, I. Guillamón6,7, H. Suderow6, S.Vieira6, M. R. Baklanov8, J. J. Palacios9 & V.M.Vinokur4
1Instituto de Nanociencia de Aragón, Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain
2Departamento de Física de la Materia Condensada, Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain
3A.V. Rzhanov Institute of Semiconductor Physics SB RAS, Novosibirsk, Russia
4Materials Science Division, Argonne National Laboratory, Illinois, USA
5Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Aragón, Universidad de Zaragoza-CSIC, Facultad de Ciencias, Spain
6Laboratorio de Bajas Temperaturas, Departamento de F´ısica de la Materia Condensada, Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales Nicol´as Cabrera, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain
7H.H. Wills Physics Laboratory, University of Bristol, United Kingdom
8IMEC, Leuven, Belgium
9Departamento de Física de la Materia Condensada, Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales Nicolás Cabrera, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain
Corresponding author: Hermann.firstname.lastname@example.org
A recent collaboration of the US, Russian and Spanish researchers finds a new method to improve current carrying capability of superconductors. Usually, superconducting vortices induced by the magnetic field move under the applied current and dissipate the energy degrading thus the ability of superconductors to carry electrical current with zero resistance. To recover superconductivity one has to pin vortices down stopping their motion. However all pinning mechanisms known so far become inefficient at technologically important temperatures and magnetic fields, and this constitutes the major problem restricting applications of superconductivity[2,3,4]. The international team demonstrates the method to immobilize vortices at elevated temperatures and magnetic fields, reversing the deleterious effect of vortex motion as the applied magnetic field is increased.
Figure 1: Resistance as a function of the magnetic field in perforated nanostructures.
To achieve this, the authors have carved patterns in superconductors using advanced nanofabrication tools. They have revealed geometrical structures, which impede vortex motion just when it is most harmful for applications, at high magnetic fields and temperatures. The work provides a new avenue for research on blocking vortex motion using nano-patterns[7,8]. The science involved brings new concepts to light: vortices confined on a row dig for themselves a deep potential well which suppresses their capability to move. Being tightly squeezed together vortices join into large clusters so that even the combined action of temperature and current fails to destroy them and move vortices. The result is truly surprising: the resistance drops down when increasing the magnetic field, even if temperature is high and close to the critical one, and remains zero over a broad range. It is exactly opposite to what the conventional wisdom in superconductors would have expected.
Figure 2: Magnetic field dependence of the resistance in a nanowire with a single vortex row.
The to-do list of researchers includes now imaging these immobile clusters and developing a quantitative theory of the effect in order to achieve complete understanding and fully utilize the potential technological promise of their discovery. One of the directions of the future work is the extension of the novel approach to pinning to other materials including high-temperature superconductors, where nanopatterning is expected to bring a dramatic improvement of their performance. For example, while many researchers are optimistic about synthesizing the room temperature superconductors, they remain skeptical about their usefulness for applications, since at elevated temperatures mobile vortices would anyway destroy the ability of superconductors to carry current without resistance. The novel approach developed by the team promises to meet this challenge of pinning vortices at high temperatures thus breaking ground for ‘quantum leap’ of superconducting materials into industrial and technological applications.
Figure 3: Perforated superconducting thin film.
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