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Journal Article

Transition from slow Abrikosov to fast moving Josephson vortices in iron pnictide superconductors

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Moll, P. J. W., Balicas, L., Geshkenbein, V., Blatter, G., Karpinski, J., Zhigadlo, N. D., et al. (2013). Transition from slow Abrikosov to fast moving Josephson vortices in iron pnictide superconductors. Nature Materials, 12(2), 134-138. doi:10.1038/NMAT3489.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000B-796F-2
Iron pnictides are layered high Tc superconductors with moderate material anisotropy and thus Abrikosov vortices are expected in the mixed state. Yet, we have discovered a distinct change in the nature of the vortices from Abrikosov-like to Josephson-like in the pnictide superconductor SmFeAs(O,F) with Tc~48–50 K on cooling below a temperature T*~41–42 K, despite its moderate electronic anisotropy γ~4–6. This transition is hallmarked by a sharp drop in the critical current and accordingly a jump in the flux-flow voltage in a magnetic field precisely aligned along the FeAs layers, indicative of highly mobile vortices. T* coincides well with the temperature where the coherence length ξc perpendicular to the layers matches half of the FeAs-layer spacing. For fields slightly out-of-plane (> 0.1°– 0.15°) the vortices are completely immobilized as well-pinned Abrikosov segments are introduced when the vortex crosses the FeAs layers. We interpret these findings as a transition from well-pinned, slow moving Abrikosov vortices at high temperatures to weakly pinned, fast flowing Josephson vortices at low temperatures. This vortex dynamics could become technologically relevant as superconducting applications will always operate deep in the Josephson regime.