Date of Award

Spring 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Director

Alex Gurevich

Committee Member

Jean Delayen

Committee Member

Alex Godunov

Committee Member

Steven Pascal

Committee Member

Todd Satogata


As a major component of linear particle accelerators, superconducting radio-frequency (SRF) resonator cavities are required to operate with lowest energy dissipation and highest accelerating gradient. SRF cavities are made of polycrystalline materials in which grain boundaries can limit maximum RF currents and produce additional power dissipation sources due to local penetration of Josephson vortices. The essential physics of vortex penetration and mechanisms of dissipation of vortices driven by strong RF currents along networks of grain boundaries and their contribution to the residual surface resistance have not been well understood. To evaluate how GBs can limit the performance of SRF materials, particularly Nb and Nb3Sn, we performed extensive numerical simulations of nonlinear dynamics of Josephson vortices in grain boundaries under strong dc and RF fields. The RF power due to penetration of vortices both in weakly-coupled and strongly-coupled grain boundaries was calculated as functions of the RF field and frequency. The result of this calculation manifested a quadratic dependence of power to field amplitude at strong RF currents, an illustration of resistive behavior of grain boundaries. Our calculations also showed that the surface resistance is a complicated function of field controlled by penetration and annihilation of vortices and antivortices in strong RF fields which ultimately saturates to normal resistivity of grain boundary. We found that Cherenkov radiation of rapidly moving vortices in grain boundaries can produce a new instability causing generation of expanding vortex-antivortex pair which ultimately drives the entire GB in a resistive state. This effect is more pronounced in polycrystalline thin film and multilayer coating structures in which it can cause significant increase in power dissipation and results in hysteresis effects in I-V characteristics, particularly at low temperatures.