Irradiation-free, columnar defects comprised of self-assembled nanodots and nanorods resulting in strongly enhanced flux-pinning in YBa2Cu3O7- films

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The development of biaxially textured, second-generation, high-temperature superconducting (HTS) wires is expected to enable most large-scale applications of HTS materials, in particular electric-power applications (Goyal (ed) 2004 Second Generation HTS Conductors (Boston, MA: Kluwer Academic)). For many potential applications, high critical currents in applied magnetic fields are required. It is well known that columnar defects generated by irradiating high-temperature superconducting materials with heavy ions significantly enhance the in-field critical current density (Civale et al 1991 Phys. Rev. Lett. 67 648–51; Weinstein et al 2005 Supercond. Sci. Technol. 18 S188–93; Li et al 2005 IEEE Trans. Appl. Supercond. 15 2787–9). Hence, for over a decade scientists world-wide have sought means to produce such columnar defects in HTS materials without the expense and complexity of ionizing radiation. Using a simple and practically scalable technique, we have succeeded in producing long, nearly continuous vortex pins along the c-axis in YBa2Cu3O7- (YBCO), in the form of self-assembled stacks of BaZrO3 (BZO) nanodots and nanorods. The nanodots and nanorods have a diameter of ~2–3 nm and an areal density ('matching field') of 8–10 T for 2 vol.% incorporation of BaZrO3. In addition, four misfit dislocations around each nanodot or nanorod are aligned and act as extended columnar defects. YBCO films with such defects exhibit significantly enhanced pinning with less sensitivity to magnetic fields H. In particular, at intermediate field values, the current density, Jc, varies as Jc~H, with α~0.3 rather than the usual values 0.5–0.65. Similar results were also obtained for CaZrO3 (CZO) and YSZ incorporation in the form of nanodots and nanorods within YBCO, indicating the broad applicability of the developed process. The process could also be used to incorporate self-assembled nanodots and nanorods within matrices of other materials for different applications, such as magnetic materials.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 1, 2005

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