Optimum pinning of the vortex lattice in extremely type-II layered superconductors

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The two-dimensional (2D) vortex lattice in the extreme type-II limit is studied by Monte Carlo simulation of the corresponding 2D Coulomb gas, with identical pins placed at sites coinciding with the zero-temperature triangular vortex lattice. At weak pinning we find evidence for 2D melting into an intermediate hexatic phase. The strong pinning regime shows a Kosterlitz-Thouless transition, driven by interstitial vortex/antivortex excitations. A stack of such identical layers with a weak Josephson coupling models a layered superconductor with a triangular arrangement of columnar pins at the matching field. A partial duality analysis finds that layer decoupling of the flux-line lattice does not occur at weak pinning for temperatures below 2D melting.
© 2003 The American Physical Society. The authors thank R. Markiewicz, F. Nori, F. Guinea, R. Mulet, and E. Altshuler for valuable discussions. C.E.C. acknowledges support from the EU TMR programme. J.P.R. acknowledges the hospitality of the Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Madrid, where this work was initiated.
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