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Weakly-emergent strain-dependent properties of high field superconductors.

Branch, Paul and Tsui, Yeekin and Osamura, Kozo and Hampshire, Damian (2019) 'Weakly-emergent strain-dependent properties of high field superconductors.', Scientific reports., 9 . p. 13998.


All superconductors in high field magnets operating above 12 T are brittle and subjected to large strains because of the differential thermal contraction between component parts on cool-down and the large Lorentz forces produced in operation. The continuous scientific requirement for higher magnetic fields in superconducting energy-efficient magnets means we must understand and control the high sensitivity of critical current density Jc to strain ε. Here we present very detailed Jc(B, θ, T, ε) measurements on a high temperature superconductor (HTS), a (Rare−Earth)Ba2Cu3O7−δ (REBCO) coated conductor, and a low temperature superconductor (LTS), a Nb3Sn wire, that include the very widely observed inverted parabolic strain dependence for Jc(ε). The canonical explanation for the parabolic strain dependence of Jc in LTS wires attributes it to an angular average of an underlying intrinsic parabolic single crystal response. It assigns optimal superconducting critical parameters to the unstrained state which implies that Jc(ε) should reach its peak value at a single strain (ε = εpeak), independent of field B, and temperature T. However, consistent with a new analysis, the high field measurements reported here provide a clear signature for weakly-emergent behaviour, namely εpeak is markedly B, (field angle θ for the HTS) and T dependent in both materials. The strain dependence of Jc in these materials is termed weakly-emergent because it is not qualitatively similar to the strain dependence of Jc of any of their underlying component parts, but is amenable to calculation. We conclude that Jc(ε) is an emergent property in both REBCO and Nb3Sn conductors and that for the LTS Nb3Sn conductor, the emergent behaviour is not consistent with the long-standing canonical explanation for Jc(ε).

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Date accepted:09 September 2019
Date deposited:10 September 2019
Date of first online publication:30 September 2019
Date first made open access:04 October 2019

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