Effect of Controlled Artificial Disorder on the Magnetic Properties of EuFe2(As1−xPx)2 Ferromagnetic Superconductor
Static (DC) and dynamic (AC, at 14 MHz and 8 GHz) magnetic susceptibilities of single crystals of a ferromagnetic superconductor, EuFe2(As1−xPx)2 (x = 0.23), were measured in pristine state and after different doses of 2.5 MeV electron or 3.5 MeV proton irradiation. The superconducting transition temperature, Tc(H), shows an extraordinarily large decrease. It starts at Tc(H=0)≈24K in the pristine sample for both AC and DC measurements, but moves to almost half of that value after moderate irradiation dose. Remarkably, after the irradiation not only Tc moves significantly below the FM transition, its values differ drastically for measurements at different frequencies, ≈16 K in AC measurements and ≈12 K in a DC regime. We attribute such a large difference in Tc to the appearance of the spontaneous internal magnetic field below the FM transition, so that the superconductivity develops directly into the mixed spontaneous vortex-antivortex state where the onset of diamagnetism is known to be frequency-dependent. We also examined the response to the applied DC magnetic fields and studied the annealing of irradiated samples, which almost completely restores the superconducting transition. Overall, our results suggest that in EuFe2(As1−xPx)2 superconductivity is affected by local-moment ferromagnetism mostly via the spontaneous internal magnetic fields induced by the FM subsystem. Another mechanism is revealed upon irradiation where magnetic defects created in ordered Eu2+ lattice act as efficient pairbreakers leading to a significant Tc reduction upon irradiation compared to other 122 compounds. On the other hand, the exchange interactions seem to be weakly screened by the superconducting phase leading to a modest increase of Tm (less than 1 K) after the irradiation drives Tc to below Tm. Our results suggest that FM and SC phases coexist microscopically in the same volume.