Precursor powder composition is known to strongly affect the critical current density (J c) of Ag/Bi2Sr2CaCu2Ox (Bi-2212) wires. However, reasons for such J c dependence have not yet been fully understood, compromising our ability to achieve further optimization. We systematically examined superconducting properties, microstructural evolution and phase transformation, and grain boundaries of Bi-2212 conductors fabricated from precursor powders with a range of compositions using a combination of transport-current measurements, a quench technique to freeze microstructures at high temperatures during heat treatment, and scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM). Samples include both dip-coated tapes and round wires, among which a commercial round wire carries a high J c of 7600 A mm-2 at 4.2 K, self-field and 2600 A mm-2 at 4.2 K, 20 T, respectively. In the melt, this high-J c conductor, made using a composition of Bi2.17Sr1.94Ca0.89Cu2Ox, contains a uniform dispersion of fine alkaline-earth cuprate (AEC) and copper-free solid phases, whereas several low-J c conductors contain large AEC particles. Such significant differences in the phase morphologies in the melt are accompanied by a drastic difference in the formation kinetics of Bi-2212 during recrystallization cooling. STEM studies show that Bi-2212 grain colonies in the high-J c conductors have a high density of Bi2Sr2CuOy (Bi-2201) intergrowths, whereas a low-J c conductor, made using Bi2.14Sr1.66Ca1.24Cu1.96Ox, is nearly free of them. STEM investigation shows grain boundaries in low-J c conductors are often insulated with a Bi-rich amorphous phase. High-J c conductors also show higher flux-pinning strength, which we ascribe to their higher Bi-2201 intergrowth density.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ceramics and Composites
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Metals and Alloys
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering
- Materials Chemistry