Various MgB2 thin films and single crystals were found in the literature to exhibit a sharp, narrow peak at low fields in the volume pinning force, Fp(H)-diagrams. The origin of this peak is associated with a steep drop of the current density when applying external magnetic fields and is ascribed to sample purity. We show here that bulk MgB2 prepared by spark-plasma sintering also shows the sharp, narrow peak in Fp. The peak is also seen in the volume pinning force scaling, Fp/Fp,max vs h = H/Hirr. Furthermore, polycrystalline bulk MgB2 samples prepared close to the optimum reaction temperature reveal this peak effect as well, but other samples of the series show a regular scaling behavior. The combination of magnetization data with data from electric transport measurements on the same samples demonstrates the origin of this peak effect. On increasing preparation temperature, the pinning force scaling changes from grain boundary pinning to point pinning and the grain connectivity gets worse. Hence, the sharp, low-field peak in Fp vanishes. Therefore, the occurrence of the peak effect in Fp gives important information on the grain coupling in the MgB2 samples.
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