Geometry-driven vortex states in type-I superconducting Pb nanowires

Miles A Engbarth, Simon J Bending, M V Milosevic

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Hall probe magnetometry has been used to investigate the magnetization of individual cylindrically shaped Pb nanowires grown by electrocrystallization on a highly oriented pyrolytic graphite electrode. These measurements have been interpreted by comparison with three-dimensional Ginzburg-Landau (GL) calculations for nanowires with our sample parameters. We find that the measured superheating field and the critical field for surface superconductivity are strongly influenced by the temperature-dependent coherence length, xi(T) and penetration depth lambda(T) and their relationship to the nanowire diameter. As the temperature is increased toward T-c this drives a change in the superconductor-normal transition from first order irreversible to first order reversible and finally second order reversible. We find that the geometrical flux confinement in our type-I nanowires leads to the formation of a one-dimensional row of single-quantum vortices. While GL calculations show a quite uniform distribution of vortices in thin nanowires, clear vortex bunching is found as the diameter increases, suggesting a transition to a more classical type-I behavior. Subtle changes in minor magnetization loops also indicate that slightly different flux configurations can form with the same vorticity, which depend on the sample history.
Original languageEnglish
Article number224504
JournalPhysical Review B
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2011


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