Fishtail effects and improved critical current density in polycrystalline bulk MgB2 containing carbon nanotubes
Bulk, polycrystalline MgB2 samples containing 2.5 wt.% multi-walled carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have been prepared by conventional solid state reaction at 800 °C. The effect of Mg precursor powders composed of two different particle sizes on the critical current density (Jc) of the as-sintered samples has been investigated. An enhancement of Jc at high field has been observed in MgB2 samples containing CNTs prepared with fine Mg powders, whereas the values of Jc in the sample prepared using the coarser Mg powders was slightly decreased. These results contrast significantly with measurements on pure, undoped, MgB2 samples prepared from the same Mg precursor powders. They suggest that carbon substitution into the MgB2 lattice, which accounts for increased flux pinning, and therefore Jc, is more effective in precursor Mg powders with a larger surface area. Rather surprisingly, the so-called fishtail effect, observed typically in MgB2 single crystals and in the (RE)BCO family of high temperature superconductors (HTSs), was observed in both sets of CNT-containing polycrystalline samples as a result of lattice defects associated with C substitution. Significantly, analytical fits to the data for each sample suggest that the same flux pinning mechanism accounts for the fishtail effect in polycrystalline MgB2 and (RE)BCO. 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.