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We describe investigations of the largely unexplored field of mesoscopic type-I superconductors. Micromagnetometry and 3D Ginzburg-Landau simulations of our single crystal β-tin samples in this regime reveal size- and temperature-dependent supercritical fields whose behavior is radically different from the bulk critical field HcB. We find that complete suppression of the intermediate state in medium-size samples can result in a surprising reduction of the critical field significantly below HcB. We also reveal an evolution of the superconducting-to-normal phase transition from the expected irreversible first order at low temperatures through the previously unobserved reversible first-order to a second-order transition close to Tc, where the critical field can be many times larger than HcB. Finally, we have identified striking correlations between the mesoscopic Hc3 for nucleation of surface superconductivity and the thermodynamic Hc near Tc. All these observations are entirely unexpected in the conventional type-I picture.
- mesoscopic type I superconductors
- Ginzburg-Landau Theory
- Critical Fields