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Tilted vortex cores and superconducting gap anisotropy in 2H-NbSe2

Authors: J.A. Galvis, E. Herrera, C. Berthod, S. Vieira, I. Guillamon, H. Suderow

Communications Physics volume 1, Article number: 30 (2018)

Abstract: Superconducting vortex cores have been extensively studied for magnetic fields applied perpendicular to the surface by mapping the density of states (DOS) through Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM). Vortex core shapes are often linked to the superconducting gap anisotropy—quasiparticle states inside vortex cores extend along directions where the superconducting gap is smallest. The superconductor 2H-NbSe2crystallizes in a hexagonal structure and vortices give DOS maps with a sixfold star shape for magnetic fields perpendicular to the surface and the hexagonal plane. This has been associated to a hexagonal gap anisotropy located on quasi two-dimensional Fermi surface tubes oriented along the c axis. The gap anisotropy in another, three-dimensional, pocket is unknown. However, the latter dominates the STM tunneling conductance. Here we measure DOS in magnetic fields parallel to the surface and perpendicular to the c axis. We find patterns of stripes due to in-plane vortex cores running nearly parallel to the surface. The patterns change with the in-plane direction of the magnetic field, suggesting that the sixfold gap anisotropy is present over the whole Fermi surface. Due to a slight misalignment between the vector of the magnetic field and the surface, our images also show outgoing vortices. Their shape is successfully compared to detailed calculations of vortex cores in tilted fields. Their features merge with the patterns due to in plane vortices, suggesting that they exit at an angle with the surface. Measuring the DOS of vortex cores in highly tilted magnetic fields with STM can thus be used to study the superconducting gap structure.


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