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A one-dimensional chain state of vortex matter


Magnetic flux penetrates isotropic type II superconductors in flux-quantized vortices, which arrange themselves into a lattice structure that is independent of the direction of the applied field1. In extremely anisotropic high-transition-temperature (high-Tc) superconductors, a lattice of stacks of circular ‘pancake’ vortices forms when a magnetic field is applied perpendicular to the copper oxide layers, while an orthogonal elongated lattice of elliptical Josephson vortices forms when the applied field is parallel to the layers2,3,4,5. Here we report that when a tilted magnetic field is applied to single crystals of Bi2Sr2CaCu2O8+δ, these lattices can interact to form a new state of vortex matter in which all stacks of pancake vortices intersect the Josephson vortices. The sublattice of Josephson vortices can therefore be used to manipulate the sublattice of pancake vortices. This result explains the suppression of irreversible magnetization by in-plane fields as seen in Bi2Sr2CaCu2O8+δ crystals, a hitherto mysterious observation6. The ability to manipulate sublattices could be important for flux-logic devices, where a ‘bit’ might be represented by a pancake vortex stack, and the problem of vortex positioning is overcome through sublattice interactions. This also enables the development of flux transducers and amplifiers, considerably broadening the scope for applications of anisotropic high-Tc superconductors.

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Figure 1: Sketches of vortex structures in isotropic and layered superconductors.
Figure 2: Images of stacks of pancake vortices in a BSCCO single crystal.
Figure 3: Images of pancake vortices in a BSCCO single crystal.
Figure 4: Experimental phase diagram for vortex matter in BSCCO single crystals.
Figure 5: Images from a movie of the motion of pancake vortex stacks as the magnetic field is varied.


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We thank M.J.W. Dodgson for discussions. This work was supported in the UK by the EPSRC and the MOD, in the USA by MARTECH, Florida State University, and in Japan by the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture.

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Correspondence to Simon Bending.

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Grigorenko, A., Bending, S., Tamegai, T. et al. A one-dimensional chain state of vortex matter. Nature 414, 728–731 (2001).

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