Year of Publication

2003

Document Type

Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Physics and Astronomy

First Advisor

Kwok-Wai Ng

Abstract

Although the pairing mechanism in MgB2 is thought to be phonon mediated, there are still many experimental results that lack appropriate explanation. For example, there is no consensus about the magnitude of the energy gap, its temperature dependence, and whether it has only one-gap or not. Many techniques have been used to investigate this, like Raman spectroscopy, farinfrared transmission, specific heat, high-resolution photoemission and tunneling. Most tunneling data on MgB2 are obtained from mechanical junctions. Measurements of energy gap by these junctions have many disadvantages like the instability to temperature and field changes. On the other hand, sandwich-like planar junctions offer a stable and reliable measurement for temperature dependence of the energy gap, where any variation in the tunneling spectra can be interpreted as a direct result from the sample under study. To the best of our knowledge, we report the first energy gap temperature- and magnetic field-dependence of MgB2/Pb planar junctions. Study of the temperature-dependence shows that the small gap value (reported by many groups and explained as a result of surface degradation) is a real bulk property of MgB2. Moreover, our data is in favor of the two-gap model rather than the onegap, multi-gap, or single anisotropic gap models. The study of magnetic field effect on the junctions gave an estimation of the upper critical field of about 5.6 T. The dependence of energy gap on the field has been studied as well. Our junctions show stability against temperature changes, but "collapsed" when the magnetic field (applied normal to the junction barrier) is higher than 3.2 T. The irreversible structural change switched the tunnling mechanism from quisiparticle tunneling into Josephson tunneling. Josephson I-V curves at different temperatures have been studied and the characteristic voltages are calculated. The estimated MgB2 energy gap from supercurrent tunneling in weak link junctions agrees very well with that from quasiparticle tunneling. Reported properties on polycrystalline, single crystal and thin film MgB2 samples are widely varied, depending on the details of preparation procedure. MgB2 single crystals are synthesized mainly by heat treatment at high temperature and pressure. Single crystals prepared by this way have the disadvantages of Mg deficiency and shape irregularity. On the other hand, improving the coupling of grain boundaries in polycrystalline MgB2 (has the lowest normal state resistivity in comparison to many other practical superconductors) will be of practical interest. Consequently, we have been motivated to look for a new heat treatment to prepare high quality polycrystalline and single crystal MgB2 in the same process. The importance of our new method is its simplicity in preparing single crystals (neither high pressure cells nor very high sintering temperatures are required to prepare single crystals) and the quality of the obtained single crystal and polycrystalline MgB2. This method gives high quality and dense polycrystalline MgB2 with very low normal state resistivity (σ(40 ) = 0.28 cm). Single crystals have an average diagonal of 50 m and 10 m thickness with a unique shape that resembles the hexagonal crystal structure. Furthermore, preparing both forms in same process gives a great opportunity to study inconsistencies in their properties. On the other hand, magnesium diboride thin films have also been prepared by magnetron sputtering under new preparation conditions. The prepared thin films have a transition temperature of about 35.2 K and they are promising in fabricating tunnel junctions.

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