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The Electronic Properties of Thin Film YBa2Cu3O7 Low Angle Grain Boundaries



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Hogg, Michael 


Critical currents in the latest biaxially textured ‘coated conductors’ are now limited by 2D networks of low angle grain boundaries (LAGBs) with misorientation θm = 1 - 10°. In order to understand and optimise current transfer in these materials it is essential to elucidate the electromagnetic behaviour of the LAGB. This work presents an investigation into the transport properties of [001]-tilt LAGBs formed by the thin film deposition of YBa2Cu3O7 onto bicrystalline substrates. Through the use of a precision two-axis goniometer, measurements of the V-I characteristic and critical current density were made as magnetic field was rotated in angles θ and φ relative to the LAGB defect. It is found that for fields applied parallel to the LAGB defect plane, dissipation is dominated by the viscous flux flow of vortices along the boundary. Clear evidence for this is found in the V-I characteristic, which displays an increased linearity indicative of the viscous regime. It is shown that the number of vortex rows involved in the flow process can discontinuously switch, leading to a V-I characteristic made up of straight segments of different gradient. For fields applied away from the LAGB defect plane a kinked vortex structure develops and the boundary critical current density, JcGB, is determined by the channelling of vortex segments still lying within the LAGB. The channelling regime is seen in angular measurements as a marked decrease in JcGB(θ,φ) as field becomes aligned to within critical angles φK or θK of the LAGB. The aligned vortices experience a reduction in dimensionality that is manifest in a reduced temperature dependence of JcGB(T). For fields applied at a sufficiently large angle from the defect plane the deleterious effects of the LAGB on current transport are mitigated considerably. In this regime a collinear vortex structure is regained and transport is controlled by the intragranular (IG) sections of the LAGB track; JcGB = δJcIG where δ ~ 0.8, a result that is independent of field, temperature and angle for a 4.9° LAGB. For rotation of the applied field within the LAGB defect plane, the presence of a pinning peak in JcGB for field aligned to the dislocation array is confirmed and modelled. The peak is found to be absent in IG track measurements and increases relative to the intrinsic peak with both increasing field and temperature. In addition, a pronounced angular hysteresis is presented, which is directly linked to a corresponding ‘static’ hysteresis in JcGB(B) with field. Magneto-optic measurements confirm that this effect is controlled by the flux density profile in the IG regions of the LAGB track. Finally, above a temperature, angle and sample dependent merging field, B*, the LAGB is found to be effectively transparent, as δ ~ 1. This is due to the irreversibility line, above which dissipation occurs across the whole LAGB track.





Grain Boundaries, YBCO, superconductivity


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge