Localized flux lines and the Bose glass


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Columnar defects provide effective pinning centers for magnetic flux lines in high–Tc superconductors. Utilizing a mapping of the statistical mechanics of directed lines to the quantum mechanics of two–dimensional bosons, one expects an entangled flux liquid phase at high temperatures, separated by a second–order localization transition from a low–temperature “Bose glass” phase with infinite tilt modulus. Recent decoration experiments have demonstrated that below the matching field the repulsive forces between the vortices may be sufficiently large to produce strong spatial correlations in the Bose glass. This is confirmed by numerical simulations, and a remarkably wide soft “Coulomb gap” at the chemical potential is found in the distribution of pinning energies. At low currents, the dominant transport mechanism in the Bose glass phase proceeds via the formation of double kinks between not necessarily adjacent columnar pins, similar to variable–range hopping in disordered semiconductors. The strong correlation effects originating in the long– range vortex interactions drastically reduce variable–range hopping transport.