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# Introduction: basic facts about superconductors

Lecture 1
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. The phenomenon of superconductivity Superconducting materials Meissner effect London equations Magnetic field penetration depth Magnetic flux quantization

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Phenomenon of superconductivity

resistance

TC temperature (K)
Discovered by Kamerlingh-Onnes in 1911: Hg,

Tc u 4 K

cold liquids Ô 4 He (4.2 K), H 2 (20 K), Ne (27 K), N 2 (77 K)

Superconductivity is destroyed: t by increasing temperature at T > T c t by large magnetic field H > H c
1933 1935 1950 1957 1962 Meissner effect Londons’ theory Ginzburg-Landau theory Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer theory Josephson effect
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Phase diagram
of a superconductor on the H ? T plane: 2 H c ÅTÆ T = 1 ? Tc H c Å0Æ
1.2 1 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 1.2

T temperature T

c

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Superconducting materials
material Al In Sn Pb Nb

T c , K H c , Oe
1.2 3.4 3.7 7.2 9.2 material 105 280 305 803 2060

year 1933 pure metals

1913 1930 year 1940 1971

T c , K H c , Oe
15 23 1.4 10 5 3.7 10 5 material

alloys

NbN Nb 3 Ge

Tc, K
35 93 94 125 150 D

year 1986 1987 1988 1988 1993

La 1.85 Ba 0.15 CuO 4 ceramics YBa 2 Cu 3 O 7 Bi 2 Sr 2 CaCu 2 O 8+x Ta 2 Ba 2 Ca 2 Cu 3 O 10+x HgBa 2 Ca 2 Cu 3 O 8+x

D under pressure

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Meissner effect
Walther Meissner and Robert Ochsenfeld in 1933

Example 1: a conductor

magnetic field

relaxation τ=L/R

Magnetic field induces a screening current (Lentz’ rule) which generates the opposite field in an ideal conductor: E = j _ = 0 /B according to Maxwell’s eq. 4 ¿ E = ? 1 c /t Þ always B = const inside the conductor

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Example 2: an ideal conductor
Magnetic field induces a screening current (Lentz’ rule) which generates the opposite field
ideal conductor

lin

g

magnetic field ON conductor

magnetic field OFF ideal conductor

co o
ld fie

cooling

magnetic field OFF

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Finally: a superconductor Meissner effect
superconductor magnetic field ON

oli co

ng

conductor

magnetic field ON + relaxation

g lin o co

Superconductor always expels the magnetic flux
magnet

superconductor

Levitation experiment

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London equations
Derived by F. and H. London in 1935 Two-fluid model: electron density n = n s + n n n s density of superconducting electrons n n density of normal electrons
electron density

n ns
TC temperature (K)

London equations: / E = / ÅC J s Æ (1) t H = ?c 4 ¿ ÅC J s Æ (2) 4^ V 2 m C = n e 2 = c 2 L is a phenomenological parameter s m is the electron mass, e is the electron charge mc 2 V L = Å 4^ n e 2 Æ 1/2 is the London penetration depth
s

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”Naive” way of deriving the 1st London equation:
(not fully correct: see Schmidt’s book for correct way)
v Drude model for normal metal Þ m d dt

= eE ? m

b

v

v average drift velocity of electrons b their relaxation time (scattering on defects) Normal metal (steady state)
dv dt

= 0, Þ v =

eb m

E, Þ J = ne v =
ne 2 b m

E = aE

Ohm’s law

Superconductor for n s assume b s Õ K, we obtain accelerative supercurrent
dv s dt

=

eE m

dJ s dt

= ne

dv s dt

=

ns e2 m

E =

C

1

E

equivalent to the London equation (1)

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For the 2nd London equation a ”naive” way of derivation does not work: it relates to time-dependent fields important for the Meissner effect ^ Let’s start from the Maxwell’s equation 4 ¿ H = 4c J
take curl

 4¿

from both sides:
4^ c

4 ¿ 4 ¿ H = ?4 2 H
from 2nd London equation:

4 ¿ J = ? c1 C
1

4^ c

H

Þ 42H =

1

V2 L

H
V2 L

t Home exercise: show that 4 2 E =
show that the similar equation also holds for

E

E

Thus, both E and H penetrate inside a superconductor to the distance V L which is called magnetic field (London) penetration depth

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Magnetic field penetration depth
x H y H(x) H0 JS superconductor

0

λL

x

Equation 4 2 H =
d2 dx 2

1

V2 L

H with H = Å0, 0, H 0 Æ gives
1

H?

V2 L

H = 0.

Using boundary conditions HÅ0Æ = H 0 and HÅKÆ = 0 we get a solution HÅxÆ = H 0 expÅ? VxL Æ for the magnetic field.
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Relation to screening current: J s = 4c^ 4 ¿ H with J s = Å0, J s , 0Æ , Þ J s = J s Åx Æ = VL i
1 ns 4^ V L c c dH 4^ dx

H 0 expÅ? VxL Æ

, so it decreases with temperature.

Temperature dependence: T 4 ?1/2 V L ÅTÆ = V L Å0Æ 1 ? Å T c Æ
3 2.5 2 1.5 1 0.5 0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1

temperature

T/T c

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Typical values for magnetic field penetration depth V L Å0Æ in different materials

Al Pb Nb crystal Nb films

50 nm 40 nm 47 nm 90 nm

YBa 2 Cu 3 O 6+x 150 nm

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Magnetic flux quantization
elementary superconducting charge is 2e , i.e. superconducting electrons are pairs all electron pairs are in the condensate, which is a quantum state at a single energy level Wave function: HÅ r Æ = Å n2s Æ 1/2 expÇi SÅ r ÆÈ , where S is the phase of the wave function. Density of particle flow ns ii D D H 4 H v = ? H 4H Æ Å 2m 2 Canonical (generalized) momentum of a particle with charge 2e and mass 2m in the magnetic field H = 4 ¿ A is p  i 4 S = 2mv s +
2e c

A .

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We obtain a quantum-mechanical generalization of the 2nd London equation: 0 J s = n s ev s = c1 Å C 2^ 4 S ? A Æ . where ic  0 = ^e = 2.06783461 ¿ 10 ?15 Wb is the magnetic flux quantum.

Let us consider a superconductor with a hole
C H d dl

at T > T c apply H = H 0 decrease T below T c select a contour C at d ¡ V L anywhere along C we have J s = 0

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Integrating along C :
0 2^

[ 4 S dl = [ A dl  
C C

where  is the total flux inside C . Since the wave function must have a single value at any point Þ expÅi S Æ = expÅi ÅS + 2^kÆ Æ, k = 0, 1, 2, ... Þ

[ 4 S dl = 2^k
C

or  = k  0 i.e. the magnetic flux in a hole is quantized.

t

Similarity to the electron orbit quantization in atom t Interesting: F.London thought that  0 = 2  0 : he did not know about 2e t Experimental confirmation: Doll and Näbauer (1960)
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Magnetic fields in simple configurations
Equation 4 2 H =
d2 dx 2 1

V2 L

H with H = Å0, 0, HÆ gives
1

H?

V2 L

H = 0.

Thin slab in a parallel field
Boundary conditions : d HÅ? d Æ = H and H Å Æ = H0 0 2 2 General solution : HÅxÆ = H 1 coshÅ VxL Æ + H 2 sinhÅ VxL Æ Substituting this solution into the boundary conditions we get 2 equations for H 1 and H 2 . Finally : d x HÅxÆ = H 0 cosh ?1 Å 2V Æ cosh Å VL Æ L Relation to screening current : J s = J s Åx Æ =
4^ V L c c dH 4^ dx

d x H 0 cosh ?1 Å 2V Æ sinh Å VL Æ L

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in field x H y H(x) H0 -HI superconducting slab

with current

JS

H(x) HI - d/2 d/2 x

- d/2 0 d/2 JS (x) - d/2 d/2 (a)

x

JS (x)

x - d/2 0 d/2 (b) x

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Thin slab carrying a current
Boundary conditions : d HÅ? d Æ = ? H and H Å Æ = HI I 2 2 General solution : HÅxÆ = H 1 coshÅ VxL Æ + H 2 sinhÅ VxL Æ Substituting this solution into the boundary conditions we get 2 equations for H 1 and H 2 . Finally : d x HÅxÆ = H I sinh ?1 Å 2V Æ sinh Å V L Æ, L where H I = 2c^ I and I is the current per unit length in z direction. Current distribution: J s Åx Æ =
4^ V L c d x H I cosh ?1 Å 2V Æ cosh Å VL Æ . L

Both H and J s are confined in the small V L -thick layer near the surface of the superconductor.

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Home exercise: consider H and J s distribution in 2 parallel plates
x JS y two parallel plates H JS

Hint: linear superposition of the above problems (a) and (b).
Superconducting short-circuit principle:
In a complex system of superconducting films, if two neighboring film surfaces are short-circuited, it will not affect the current distribution in any other part of the system other than the two short-circuited surfaces.

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