New Journal of Physics vol:14 issue:053006 pages:1-11
In superconducting films under an applied dc current, we analyze experimentally and theoretically the influence of engineered pinning on the vortex velocity at which the flux-flow dissipation undergoes an abrupt transition from low to high resistance. We argue, based on a nonuniform distribution of vortex velocity in the sample, that in strongly disordered systems the mean critical vortex velocity for flux-flow instability (i) has a nonmonotonic dependence on magnetic field and (ii) decreases as the pinning strength is increased. These findings challenge the generally accepted microscopic model of Larkin and Ovchinnikov (1979 J. Low. Temp. Phys. 34 409) and all subsequent refinements of this model which ignore the presence of pinning centers.