In type-II superconductors vortex pinning enhances the critical current density. One known method to induce pinning sites is the use of magnetic nanostructures that locally degrade the superconductivity via stray fields. In recent studies, we showed that both the critical temperature and critical current of Nb thin films can be enhanced by coupling Au nanoparticles via organic molecules and, concomitantly, a zero-bias peak appeared in the density of states. One suggested mechanism to explain these effects was the interaction of the induced pinning potential landscape with the Cooper pairs and vortices. To further examine this mechanism we study in the present work the effects of chemically linking magnetic nanoparticles to Nb films. Two types of magnetic nanoparticles are investigated, half-metal (Fe3O4) and metallic (Co). For high nanoparticle density, resulting in an effective continuous magnetic film, the critical temperature is reduced, as expected. However, for intermediate density, where the magnetic nanoparticles are well separated and a distinct pinning landscape is formed above the Nb film, critical temperature and current density enhancements are observed for both types of particles. Moreover, the tunnelling spectra acquired on the (metallic) Co nanoparticles exhibit a zero-bias conducting peak. The magnetic nanoparticles proximity through organic molecules presents similar behaviour to the non-magnetic Au nanoparticles inverse proximity results. This may suggest that pinning mechanisms play a role in the critical temperature enhancement.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
Copyright © EPLA, 2014.