Irradiation damage of iron-based superconductors

Iron-based superconductors, discovered in 2008, are the newest family of high temperature superconductors, exhibiting transition temperatures as high as 55 K – second only to the cuprate superconductors discovered in the late 1980s.  They are promising materials for high magnetic field applications, such as fusion reactors because, like the cuprate superconductors, they have very high upper critical field values (>100 tesla).  Although they are not yet available commercially in the form of long lengths of wire, there are indications that manufacturing these materials may be easier and cheaper than the cuprate superconductors owing to their slightly longer coherence lengths. However, very little is known about how they will survive in the harsh environment of a fusion reactor.  This project will investigate the effect of ion/neutron irradiation on the microstructure and superconducting properties of state-of-the-art thin films of Fe-based superconductors grown by collaborators in Germany and Japan.  The student will benefit from our expertise in developing novel techniques to investigate radiation damage in cuprate superconductors, and will work closely with the existing research team to translate methodologies to the study of the Fe-based superconductors.  The student will become an expert in at least one advanced characterisation technique (e.g. atomic resolution electron microscopy, x-ray spectroscopy) as well as magnetisation and transport techniques for testing superconducting properties at low temperature.   

Crystal structures of Fe-based superconductors

Crystal structures of Fe-based superconductors

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