Processing of R-Ba-Cu-O superconductors
Precipitation processes were developed to introduce second phases as flux pinning centers in Gd-Ba-Cu-O and Nd-Ba-Cu-O superconductors. In Gd-Ba-Cu-O, precipitation is caused by the decrease of the upper solubility limit of Gd 1 + xBa 2 - xCu3O7 solid solution (Gd123ss) in low oxygen partial pressure. Processing of supersaturated Gd1.2Ba1.8Cu3O7 in low oxygen partial pressure can produce dispersed second phases. Gd211 is formed as a separate phase while extensive Gd124-type stacking fault is formed instead of a separate CuO phase. As a result of the precipitation reaction, the transition temperature and critical current density are increased. In Nd-Ba-Cu-O, precipitation is caused by the decrease of the lower solubility limit of Nd 1 + xBa 2 - xCu3O7 solid solution (Nd123ss) in oxygen. DTA results reveal the relative stability of Nd123ss in different oxygen partial pressures. In 1 bar oxygen partial pressure, Nd123ss with x = 0.1 is the most stable phase. In lower oxygen partial pressures, the most stable composition shifts towards the stoichiometric composition. The relative stability changes faster with decreasing oxygen partial pressure. Therefore, processing in oxygen and air tends to produce broad superconducting transitions but sharp transitions can be achieved in 0.01 bar and 0.001 bar oxygen partial pressures. While the lower solubility limits in 0.01 bar and 0.001 bar oxygen partial pressures remain at x = 0.00, the solubility limits in oxygen and air show a narrowing with decreasing temperature. Because of the narrowing of the solubility range in oxygen, oxygen annealing of Nd123 initially processed in low oxygen partial pressures will result in precipitation of second phases. The equilibrium second phase is BaCuO2 for temperature above 608°C, and at lower temperatures the equilibrium second phases are Ba2CuO3.3 and Ba2Cu3O 5 + y. However, annealing at low temperature may produce a fine metastable transition phase. A coherent intermediate perovskite structure with a composition of BaCuO2 is observed along with a high density of dislocations during the precipitation process at 500°C in oxygen. It is believed that oxygen annealing at 900°C produces the equilibrium BaCuO2 phase. These precipitates are responsible for the strong flux pinning in Nd123 melt-textured in low oxygen partial pressure.