We report a pronounced peak effect in the magnetization and the magnetocaloric coefficient in a single crystal of the superconductor Nb3 Sn. As the origin of the magnetization peak effect in classical type-II superconductors is still strongly debated, we performed an investigation of its underlying thermodynamics. Calorimetric experiments performed during field sweeps at constant temperatures reveal that the sharp increase in the current density occurs concurrently with additional degrees of freedom in the specific heat due to thermal fluctuations and a liquid vortex phase. No latent heat due to a direct first-order melting of a Bragg glass phase into the liquid phase is found, which we take as evidence for an intermediate glass phase with enhanced flux pinning. The Bragg glass phase can, however, be restored by a small ac field. In this case, a first-order vortex melting transition with a clear hysteresis is found. In the absence of an ac field, the intermediate glass phase is located within the field range of this hysteresis. This indicates that the peak effect is associated with the metastability of an underlying first-order vortex melting transition.
|Journal||Physical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics|
|Publication status||Published - 2007 Mar 2|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Condensed Matter Physics