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Evidence of a non-thermal magnetic relaxation in the intermediate state of a type-I superconducor is presented. It is attributed to quantum tunneling of interfaces separating normal and superconducting regions. Tunneling barriers are estimated and temperature of the crossover from thermal to quantum regime is obtained from Caldeira-Leggett theory. Comparison between theory and experiment points to tunneling of interface segments of size comparable to the coherence length, by steps of order one nanometer.


This work was originally published in Physical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics, available at DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.83.064507.

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