Imaging of super-fast dynamics and flow instabilities of superconducting vortices


L. Embon, Y. Anahory, Z. L. Jelic, E. O. Lachman, Y. Myasoedov, M. E. Huber, G. P. Mikitik, A. V. Silhanek, M. V. Milosevic, A. Gurevich, and E. Zeldov. 2017. “Imaging of super-fast dynamics and flow instabilities of superconducting vortices.” NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, 8.


Quantized magnetic vortices driven by electric current determine key electromagnetic properties of superconductors. While the dynamic behavior of slow vortices has been thoroughly investigated, the physics of ultrafast vortices under strong currents remains largely unexplored. Here, we use a nanoscale scanning superconducting quantum interference device to image vortices penetrating into a superconducting Pb film at rates of tens of GHz and moving with velocities of up to tens of km/s, which are not only much larger than the speed of sound but also exceed the pair-breaking speed limit of superconducting condensate. These experiments reveal formation of mesoscopic vortex channels which undergo cascades of bifurcations as the current and magnetic field increase. Our numerical simulations predict metamorphosis of fast Abrikosov vortices into mixed Abrikosov-Josephson vortices at even higher velocities. This work offers an insight into the fundamental physics of dynamic vortex states of superconductors at high current densities, crucial for many applications.