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The cause of ‘weak-link’ grain boundary behaviour in polycrystalline Bi2Sr2CaCu2O8 and Bi2Sr2Ca2Cu3O10 superconductors.

Wang, Guanmei and Raine, Mark J. and Hampshire, Damian P. (2018) 'The cause of ‘weak-link’ grain boundary behaviour in polycrystalline Bi2Sr2CaCu2O8 and Bi2Sr2Ca2Cu3O10 superconductors.', Superconductor science and technology., 31 (2). 024001.


The detrimental effects of grain boundaries have long been considered responsible for the low critical current densities (J_c) in high temperature superconductors. In this paper, we apply the quantitative approach used to identify the cause of the 'weak-link' grain boundary behaviour in YBa2Cu3O7 [1], to the Bi2Sr2CaCu2O8 and Bi2Sr2Ca2Cu3O10 materials that we have fabricated. Magnetic and transport measurements are used to characterise the grain and grain boundary properties of micro- and nanocrystalline material. Magnetisation measurements on all nanocrystalline materials show non-Bean-like behaviour and are consistent with surface pinning. Bi2Sr2CaCu2O8: Our microcrystalline material has very low grain boundary resistivity (ρ_GB), which is similar to that of the grains (ρ_G) such that ρ_GB≈ρ_G=2×〖10〗^(-5) Ωm (assuming a grain boundary thickness (d) of 1 nm) equivalent to an areal resistivity of ρ_G=2×〖10〗^(-14) Ωm^2. The transport J_c values are consistent with well-connected grains and very weak grain boundary pinning. However, unlike low temperature superconductors in which decreasing grain size increases the pinning along the grain boundary channels, any increase in pinning produced by making the grains in our Bi2Sr2CaCu2O8 materials nanocrystalline was completely offset by a decrease in the depairing current density of the grain boundaries caused by their high resistivity. We suggest a different approach to increasing J_c from that used in LTS materials, namely incorporating additional strong grain and grain boundary pinning sites in microcrystalline materials to produce high J_c values. Bi2Sr2Ca2Cu3O10: Both our micro- and nanocrystalline samples have ρ_GB/ρ_G of at least 10^3. This causes strong suppression of J_c across the grain boundaries, which explains the low transport J_c values we find experimentally. Our calculations show that low J_c in untextured polycrystalline Bi2Sr2Ca2Cu3O10 material is to be expected and the significant effort in the community in texturing samples and removing grain boundaries altogether is well-founded.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:Original content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 licence. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI.
Date accepted:14 December 2017
Date deposited:21 December 2017
Date of first online publication:16 January 2018
Date first made open access:No date available

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