Nanoscale investigation of superconductivity and magnetism using neutrons and muons
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The work presented in this thesis was broadly focussed on the investigation of the magnetic behaviour of different superconducting materials in the form of bulk (single crystals and pellets) and thin ﬁlms (nanomagnetic devices like superconducting spin valves etc). Neutrons and muons were extensively used to probe the structural and magnetic behaviour of these systems at the nanoscale along with bulk characterisation techniques like high-sensitive magnetic property measurements, scanning probe microscopy and magneto-transport measurements etc. The nanoscale interplay of Superconductivity and Ferromagnetism was studied in the thin ﬁlm structures using a combination of Polarised Neutron Reﬂectivity (PNR) and Low Energy Muon Spin Rotation (LE-µSR) techniques while bulk Muon Spin Rotation (µSR) technique was used for microscopic magnetic investigation in the bulk materials. In the Fe/Pb heterostructure, evidence of the Proximity Effect was observed in the form of an enhancement of the superconducting penetration depth (λs) with an increase in the ferromagnetic layer thickness (dF) in both the bilayered and the trilayered structures. The existence of an Inverted Magnetic Region was also detected at the Ferromagnet-Superconductor (F/S) interface in the normal state possibly originating from the induced spin polarisation within the Pb layer in the presence of the neighbouring Fe layer(s). The spatial size (height and width) of the Inverted Magnetic Region did not change much while cooling the sample below the superconducting transition temperature(Tc)and it also stayed unaffected by an increase in the Fe layer thickness and by a change of the applied magnetic ﬁeld. In the superconducting spin valve structure containing Permalloy (Py) as ferromagnetic layer and Nb as the superconducting layer, LE-µSR measurements revealed the evidence of the decay of magnetic ﬂux density (as a function of thickness) within the Nb layer symmetrically from the Py/Nb interfaces towards the centre of the Nb layer in the normal state. The thickness dependent magnetisation decay occurred over two characteristic length scales in the normal state that stayed of similar values in the superconducting state also. In the superconducting state, an additional contribution towards the magnetisation was found in the vicinity of the Py/Nb interfaces possibly originating from the spin polarisation of the singlet Cooper pairs in these areas. The nanoscale magnetic investigation on a highly engineered F/S/F structure (where each of the F blocks made of multiple Co/Pd layers with magnetic moments aligned perpendicular to the plane of these layers and neighbouring magnetic blocks separated by Ru layers giving rise to antiferromagnetic alignment) using LE-µSR showed an antisymmetric thickness dependent magnetic ﬂux density proﬁle with two characteristic length scales. In the superconducting state, the magnetic ﬂux density proﬁle got modiﬁed within the superconducting Nb₆₇Ti₃₃ layer near the F/S interfaces in a way similar to that of observed in the case of Py/Nb system, most likely because of the spin polarisation of the superconducting electron pairs. The vortex magnetic phase diagram of Bi₂Sr₂Ca₂Cu₃O10-δ was studied using the Muon Spin Rotation (µSR) technique to explore the effects of vortex lattice melting and rearrangements for vortex transitions and crossover as a function of magnetic ﬁeld and temperatures. At low magnetic ﬁelds, the ﬂux vortices undergo a ﬁrst order melting transition from a vortex lattice to a vortex liquid state with increasing temperature while another transition also occurred with increasing ﬁeld at ﬁxed temperature to a vortex glass phase at the lowest temperatures. Evidence of a frozen liquid phase was found in the intermediate ﬁeld region at low temperature in the form of a lagoon in the superconducting vortex state which is in agreement with earlier observations made in BiSCCO-2212. The magnetic behaviour of the unconventional superconductor Sr₂RuO₄ was investigated using µSR to ﬁnd the evidence of normal state magnetism and the nature of the vortex state. In the normal state, a weak hysteretic magnetic signal was detected over a wide temperature and ﬁeld range believed to be supporting the evidence of a chiral order parameter. The nature of the vortex lattice structure was obtained in different parts of the magnetic phase diagram and the evidence of magnetic ﬁeld driven transition in the lattice structure was detected from a Triangular→Square structure while the vortex lattice stayed Triangular over the entire temperature region below Tc at low ﬁelds with a disappearance of pinning at higher temperatures.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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