Friday, June 7, 2013

1306.1244 (Niels R. Walet et al.)

On the nature of the phase transitions in a thin film of type II

Niels R. Walet, M. A. Moore
We have simulated the thermodynamics of vortices in a thin film of a type-II superconductor. We make the lowest Landau level approximation, and use quasi-periodic boundary conditions. Our work is consistent with the results of previous simulations where evidence was found for an apparent first order transition between the vortex liquid state and the vortex crystal state. We show, however, that these results are just an artifact of studying systems which are too small. There are substantial difficulties in simulating larger systems using traditional approaches. By means of the optimal energy diffusion algorithm we have been able to study systems containing up to about one thousand vortices, and for these larger systems the evidence for a first order transition disappears. By studying both crystalline and hexatic order, we show that the KTHNY scenario seems to apply, where melting from the crystal is first to the hexatic liquid state and next to the normal vortex liquid, in both cases via a continuous transition.
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