Rayleigh instability of confined vortex droplets in critical superconductorsRayleigh instability of confined vortex droplets in critical superconductors
Faculty of Sciences. Physics
Condensed Matter Theory
11(2015):1, p. 21-25
University of Antwerp
Depending on the Ginzburg-Landau parameter kappa, superconductors can either be fully diamagnetic if kappa < 1/root 2 (type I superconductors) or allow magnetic flux to penetrate through Abrikosov vortices if kappa > 1/root 2 (type II superconductors; refs 1,2). At the Bogomolny critical point, kappa = kappa(c) = 1/root 2, a state that is infinitely degenerate with respect to vortex spatial configurations arises(3,4). Despite in-depth investigations of conventional type I and type II superconductors, a thorough understanding of the magnetic behaviour in the near-Bogomolny critical regime at kappa similar to kappa(c) remains lacking. Here we report that in confined systems the critical regime expands over a finite interval of kappa forming a critical superconducting state. We show that in this state, in a sample with dimensions comparable to the vortex core size, vortices merge into a multi-quanta droplet, which undergoes Rayleigh instability(5) on increasing kappa and decays by emitting single vortices. Superconducting vortices realize Nielsen-Olesen singular solutions of the Abelian Higgs model, which is pervasive in phenomena ranging from quantum electrodynamics to cosmology(6-9). Our study of the transient dynamics of Abrikosov-Nielsen-Olesen vortices in systems with boundaries promises access to non-trivial effects in quantum field theory by means of bench-top laboratory experiments.