Optical manipulation of single flux quanta

Abstract : Magnetic field can penetrate into type-II superconductors in the form of Abrikosov vortices, which are magnetic flux tubes surrounded by circulating supercurrents often trapped at defects referred to as pinning sites. Although the average properties of the vortex matter can be tuned with magnetic fields, temperature or electric currents, handling of individual vortices remains challenging and has been demonstrated only with sophisticated magnetic force, superconducting quantum interference device or strain-induced scanning local probe microscopies. Here, we introduce a far-field optical method based on local heating of the superconductor with a focused laser beam to realize a fast, precise and non-invasive manipulation of individual Abrikosov vortices, in the same way as with optical tweezers. This simple approach provides the perfect basis for sculpting the magnetic flux profile in superconducting devices like a vortex lens or a vortex cleaner, without resorting to static pinning or ratchet effects. Since a single vortex can induce a Josephson phase shift, our method also paves the way to fast optical drive of Josephson junctions, with potential massive parallelization of operations.
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Nature Communications, Nature Publishing Group, 2016, 7, pp.12801 (1-7). 〈10.1038/ncomms12801〉
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I. S. Veshchunov, William Magrini, S. V. Mironov, A. G. Godin, B. Trebbia, et al.. Optical manipulation of single flux quanta. Nature Communications, Nature Publishing Group, 2016, 7, pp.12801 (1-7). 〈10.1038/ncomms12801〉. 〈hal-01357228v2〉

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