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Avalanche dynamics is found in many phenomena spanning from earthquakes to the evolution of species. It can be also found in vortex matter when a type II superconductor is externally driven, for example, by increasing the magnetic field. Vortex avalanches associated with thermal instabilities can be an undesirable effect for applications, but "dynamically driven" avalanches emerging from the competition between intervortex interactions and quenched disorder constitute an interesting scenario to test theoretical ideas related with non-equilibrium dynamics. However, differently from the equilibrium phases of vortex matter in type II superconductors, the study of the corresponding dynamical phases - in which avalanches can play a role - is still in its infancy. In this paper we critically review relevant experiments performed in the last decade or so, emphasizing the ability of different experimental techniques to establish the nature and statistical properties of the observed avalanche behavior.
Vortex avalanches and self organized criticality in superconducting niobium
In 1993 Tang proposed  that vortex avalanches should produce a self organized critical state in superconductors, but conclusive evidence for this has heretofore been lacking. In the present paper, we report extensive micro-Hall probe data from the vortex dynamics in superconducting niobium, where a broad distribution of avalanche sizes scaling as a power-law for more than two decades is found. The measurements are combined with magneto-optical imaging, and show that over a widely varying magnetic landscape the scaling behaviour does not change, hence establishing that the dynamics of superconducting vortices is a SOC phenomenon.
Theory of flux jump size; Small and big jumps in MgB2
D. V. Shantsev et al.
R. Prozorov et al.
Phys. Rev. B 74, 220511(R) (2006)
Video from ameslab.gov
Giant abrupt changes in the magnetic flux distribution in Nb foils were studied by using magneto-optical visualization, thermal and magnetic measurements. Uniform flux jumps and sometimes almost total catastrophic collapse of the critical state are reported. Results are discussed in terms of thermomagnetic instability mechanism with different heat removal channels.
More videos of jumpy flux penetration in Nb
M. Baziljevich et al.
Adv. Sci. Tech. 38, 377 (2003), PDF