Distribution of the superconducting critical current density within a Gd-Ba-Cu-O single grain
The magnitude of the maximum trapped magnetic field in a bulk, single-grain superconductor is a key performance figure of merit. This is determined, generally, by the magnitude of the critical current density, Jc, and the length scale over which it flows. As with all type-II superconductors, Jc is related closely to the microstructure of the superconducting material and, in the case of RE-Ba-Cu-O [(RE)BCO, where RE is a rare-earth element or yttrium] single grains, RE2BaCuO5 (RE-211) inclusions in the superconducting REBa2Cu3O7- (RE-123) phase matrix are key microstructural features that act effectively as flux pinning centres. Although the distribution of RE-211 in single-grain bulk superconductors has been studied extensively, the variation of Jc within a given sample has been much investigated much less thoroughly. A detailed experimental understanding of the variation of Jc in these technologically important materials, therefore, is required given the growing popularity and significance of numerical techniques for modelling the behaviour of type-II bulk superconductors. Here we report a systematic investigation of the correlation between Gd-211 particle density and sample porosity, which are microstructural features, and Tc and Jc in a Gd-Ba-Cu-O bulk, single grain fabricated using a buffer layer and a supply of additional liquid phase. This was performed by cutting the sample into numerous sub-specimens of approximate dimensions 18.104.22.168 mm3. We observe that Jc decreases with distance from the seed, although more strongly with distance along the c-axis than along the a-b plane. In contrast to what might be expected given the assumed contribution of RE-211 inclusions to flux pinning, we find no evidence of a clear correlation between the local RE-211 precipitate density and local critical current on a length scale of mm. We observe that the porosity of the sample is a more dominant factor in determining the distribution of Jc within a single grain.