Spontaneous symmetry-breaking vortex lattice transitions in pure niobium

Mark Laver, Edward Forgan, Stephen Brown, Demetris Charalambous, Silvia Ramos, Charlotte Bowell, Richard Lycett

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45 Citations (Scopus)


We report an extensive investigation of magnetic vortex lattice (VL) structures in single crystals of pure niobium with the magnetic field applied parallel to a fourfold symmetry axis, so as to induce frustration between the cubic crystal symmetry and hexagonal VL coordination expected in an isotropic situation. We observe new VL structures and phase transitions; all the VL phases observed (including those with an exactly square unit cell) spontaneously break some crystal symmetry. One phase even has the lowest possible symmetry of a two-dimensional Bravais lattice. This is quite unlike the situation in high-T-c or borocarbide superconductors, where VL structures orient along particular directions of high crystal symmetry. The causes of this behavior are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167002
Number of pages1
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2006


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