Stacks of intrinsic Josephson junctions (IJJs) made from high-temperature superconductors such as Bi2Sr2CaCu2O8+δ (Bi-2212) (BSCCO) are a promising source of coherent continuous-wave terahertz radiation. It is thought that at electrical bias conditions under which THz-emission occurs, hot spots may form due to resistive self-heating, and that these spots may be highly beneficial for the generation of high levels of THz power. Here, we perform an imaging study of the temperature distribution at the surface of BSCCO stacks utilizing the temperature-dependent 612 nm fluorescence line of Eu3+ in a europium chelate. The images directly reveal a highly non-uniform temperature distribution in which the temperature in the middle of the stack can exceed the superconducting transition temperature by tens of Kelvin under biasing conditions typical for THz-emission.

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