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Wednesday, August 07

Superconductivity in MgB2 Wires, Bulks, and Thin Films: A Look into the Limitations of Magnesium Diboride with an Eye to Investigating Heterostructures for Increased Flux Pinning

Michael Susner, Ohio State University, Columbus
Materials Science & Technology Division Seminar
11:00 AM — 12:00 PM, Building 4100, Room C-201
Contact: Brian Sales (, 865.576.7646


Magnesium diboride (MgB2) is a material with a superconducting transition temperature of 39 K. Discovered in 2001, the relatively large coherence length (and associated lack of weak links) together with its simple binary composition (making phase pure formation relatively easy) have made it a material of substantial interest. However, it has been difficult to assess in detail the relative importance of the roles of flux pinning, crystalline anisotropy, porosity, connectivity, doping, and doping homogeneity on the observed transport limitations of this conductor.

First, the overall effects of electrical connectivity and crystalline anisotropy of critical current density (Jc) were investigated. In doing so the Jcs of dense, well-connected c-axis oriented films were compared with the relatively degraded Jcs of standard powder-in-tube MgB2 wires. With the aid of a percolation model it was deduced that at 4.2 K, 10 T. about 60% of the degradation was due to MgB2's crystalline anisotropy and the remaining 40% to porosity.

Second, chemical substitutions onto both the Mg and B sites were investigated in terms of effects on structure and superconducting properties. The homogeneity of C-substitution onto the B site was quantified in terms of the width of the superconducting specific heat transition. Analysis of the results led to optimization of methods for homogeneous doping of C into the B sublattice. Zr substituted onto the Mg sublattice was investigated using samples prepared by pulsed laser deposition (PLD). Changes in magnetic, resistive, superconductive, chemical, and structural properties were studied over a wide range of Zr composition. The method used to create the doped MgB2 films can be used, with careful application, to create heterostructures that can be used to increase the flux pinning density of this material.

Finally, translating out PLD synthesis knowledge to a semiconducting system, we have created a method for growing high quality ZnO nanowires. By creating a composition gradient (say with MgO) it is possible to induce "polarization doping" in this non-centrosymmetric wutzite material.