Guided Vortex Motion Control in Superconducting Thin Films by Sawtooth Ion Surface Modification
Design of flux profile and guided motion of magnetic flux quanta (also known as vortices) are central issues for functionality of superconducting devices. Anchoring vortex movement by trapping flux lines through the use of defects and preventing vortex entry by shielding magnetic field have been broadly explored, which can also enable reduction of noise for optimal device operation. Removing vortices entirely via the so-called ratchet effect (employing an asymmetric energy potential) is another alternative. This ratcheting potential is also used in DNA splitting, particle separation, surface atom electromigration, and electrophoresis. Utilizing a superconductor with the ratchet vortex pinning potential induces a dominant motion direction, which can be used to pump flux out from device functional zones. In this work, a varying thickness superconductor with its tailored intrinsic pinning mechanism has been simulated and proven to provide this preferential vortex motion. We demonstrate both theoretically and experimentally that a varying thickness superconducting ratchet is indeed possible. Furthermore, the sawtooth shape of the bridge provides a tunability to the preferred vortex motion direction, dependent on the ramp gradient and intrinsic pinning strength.