Flux creep in pulsed laser deposited superconducting YBa₂Cu₃O₇ thin films

Maritz, E. J. (Erasmus Jacobus) (2002-03)

Thesis (PhD (Physics))--University of Stellenbosch, 2002.

Includes bibliography.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: High temperature superconductivity is an important topic in contemporary solid state physics, and an area of very active research. Due to it’s potential for application in low temperature electronic devices, the material has attracted the attention of researchers in the electronic engineering and material science fields alike. Moreover, from a fundamental point of view, several questions remain unanswered, related to the origin of superconductivity of this class of materials and the nature of quantised magnetic flux present in magnetised samples. In this work, flux creep phenomena in a thin superconducting YBa₂Cu₃O₇ film deposited by pulsed laser deposition, is investigated near the critical temperature 0 ≤ Tc – T ≤ 10 K. Creep activation energy U0 and critical current density jc were determined as a function of temperature close to Tc, providing important data to a problem of high-Tc superconductivity which is still a matter of debate. In particular it is still an open question whether restoring the temperature in a creep freezing experiment in fact restores the film to it's original state before the freezing. The most important novel results concern the regime of critical fluctuations in the vicinity Tc - T < 1 K. We studied the isothermal relaxation of trapped magnetic flux, and determined that the long time decay follows a power law, where the exponent is inversely proportional to the creep activation energy. The temperature dependence of the critical current density jc(T) of the YBa₂Cu₃O₇ film close to Tc was obtained during warming runs. It was determined that jc(T) follows a square root dependence on T to high accuracy in the range 0.2 ≤ Tc – T ≤ 1.5 K. During flux creep experiments an interesting phenomenon called creep freezing related to the strong temperature dependence of the relaxation rate was observed. A pronounced slowing of relaxation with only a small drop in temperature from a starting temperature close to Tc was detected. Experiments were conducted by initiating an isothermal flux decay run. At a certain point the temperature was slightly lowered, and the flux decay stopped within experimental accuracy. When the temperature was restored to the initial value, the flux decay resumed at the previous rate before cooling. An argument based on vortex drift velocity was employed to explain the phenomenon qualitatively. During the course of this investigation, a pulsed laser deposition (PLD) system was designed and built from scratch. PLD involves the interaction of a focussed laser pulse with a multielemental solid target material. Material ablated from the target forms a fast moving plume consisting of atomic and molecular particles, directed away from the target, and towards a usually heated substrate on which the particles condense layer by layer to form a thin film. The substrate temperature and background gas are carefully controlled to be conductive to the growth of a desired phase of the multi-elemental compound. The PLD system proved to be quite versatile in the range of materials that could be deposited. It was used to deposit thin films of different materials, most notable were good quality superconducting YBa₂Cu₃O₇, thermochromic VO2, and magnetoresistive LaxCa1-xMnO3. Metallic Au and Ag layers were also successfully deposited on YBa2Cu3O7 thin films, to serve as protective coatings. The critical temperatures of the best superconducting films were 90 K as determined by resistivity measurement. The optimal deposition conditions to deposit high quality superconducting YBa₂Cu₃O₇ thin films was found to be: deposition temperature 780°C, laser energy density 2-3 J/cm2, oxygen partial pressure 0.2 mbar, and target-substrate distance 35 mm. This yields film with Tc ~ 90 K. It was found that deposition temperature plays the predominant role in determining the quality of YBa₂Cu₃O₇ thin films deposited by PLD.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hoë temperatuur supergeleiding is tans ’n aktuele onderwerp van vastetoestandfisika en dit is ’n gebied van baie aktiewe navorsing. Weens die potensiaal vir toepassings van hoë temperatuur supergeleiers in elektronika, het dié klas materiale die aandag van fisici and elektronici getrek. Verskeie fundamentele vraagstukke bly steeds onbeantwoord, veral met betrekking tot die oorsprong van supergeleiding in hierdie materiale en die gedrag van gekwantiseerde magnetiese vloed (“vortekse”) in gemagnetiseerde monsters. In hierdie werk word diffusie van vortekse in dun supergeleidende YBa₂Cu₃O₇ films ondersoek naby die kritieke temperatuur (0 ≤ Tc - T ≤ 10 K). Die temperatuur afhanklikheid van die diffusie aktiveringsenergie U0 en die kritieke stroomdigtheid jc word bepaal naby Tc. Dit verskaf belangrike inligting tot probleme in hoë temperatuur supergeleiding wat tans nog onbeantwoord bly. In die besonder is dit steeds ’n ope vraag of die herstel van die aanvanklike temperatuur in ’n vloedstollings eksperiment waarlik die film tot die oorspronklike toestand herstel. Die belangrikste nuwe resultate hou verband met die gebied van kritieke fluktuasies van die orde parameter in die omgewing 0 < Tc - T < 1 K. Ons het die isotermiese ontspanning van vortekse verstrik in die kristalstruktuur bestudeer, en bepaal dat die lang tydsverval ’n magsverwantskap handhaaf, waar die eksponent omgekeerd eweredig is aan U0. Die temperatuur afhanklikheid van die kritieke stroomdigtheid jc(T) van die YBa₂Cu₃O₇ film naby Tc is bepaal tydens verhittingslopies. Daar is bevind dat naby Tc, jc ’n vierkantswortel verband met T volg, tot hoë noukeurigheid in die gebied 0.2 ≤ Tc – T ≤ 1.5 K. Gedurende vorteksdiffusie eksperimente is ’n interessante verskynsel naamlik vloedstolling (“flux freezing”) waargeneem. Dit hou verband met die sterk temperatuur afhanklikheid van die vervaltempo van die magnetiese moment van ’n gemagnetiseerde film. ’n Skerp daling van die vervaltempo, weens slegs ’n klein temperatuurdaling vanaf die begin temperatuur naby Tc, is waargeneem. Gedurende eksperimente is daar aanvanklik ’n isotermiese vloedontspanning teweeg gebring. Op ’n sekere tydstip is die temperatuur effens verlaag, waarby die vloedontspanning tot stilstand gekom het binne grense van waarneming. Wanneer die temperatuur weer herstel is na die oorspronklike, het die vloedontspanning voortgegaan teen die tempo voor die temperatuurverlaging. ’n Verklaring wat gebaseer is op vorteks dryfsnelheid was aan die hand gedoen om hierdie gedrag te verklaar. ’n Groot komponent van die projek was om die dun YBa₂Cu₃O₇ films self te vervaardig. Tydens hierdie ondersoek, is ’n gepulseerde laser deposisie (“PLD”) sisteem eiehandig ontwerp en gebou. PLD behels die interaksie van ’n gefokuseerde laser puls met ’n teiken bestaande uit ’n multi-element vastestofverbinding. Materiaal wat verdamp (“ablate”) word, vorm ’n snelbewegende pluim bestaande uit atomiese en molekulêre deeltjies. Dit beweeg vanaf die teiken na ’n verhitte substraat, waarop die deeltjies kondenseer om laag vir laag ’n dun film te vorm. Die substraat temperatuur en agtergrond gas word sorgvuldig beheer om die groei van die verlangde fase van die multi-element verbinding teweeg te bring. Die PLD sisteem is baie veeldoelig ten opsigte van die verskeidenheid materiale wat suksesvol neergeslaan kan word. Dit was aangewend om verskillende materiale neer te slaan, onder andere supergeleidende YBa₂Cu₃O₇, termochromiese VO2, en magnetoresistiewe LaxCa1-xMnO3. Geleidende Au en Ag lagies is ook suksesvol neergeslaan op YBa₂Cu₃O₇ dun films, om te dien as beskermingslagies. Die kritieke temperatuur van die beste supergeleidende films was 90 K soos bepaal deur weerstandsmetings. Die optimale neerslaan toestand vir hoë kwaliteit YBa₂Cu₃O₇ dun films was: substraat temperatuur 780°C, laser energiedigtheid 2 - 3 J/cm2, suurstofdruk 0.2 mbar, en teiken-substraat afstand 35 mm. Daar is bevind dat die substraat temperatuur die deurslaggewende rol speel tydens die neerslaan proses om die kwaliteit van die supergeleidende films te bepaal.

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