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Microscale modulations of the crystal structure in a continuous superconductor turn out to be effective for the spatial focusing of the energy dissipation induced by unpinned vortices. High-energy heavy-ion irradiation allowed the authors to finely control the defect density in order to study the properties of interfaces between pristine and irradiated parts of high temperature superconductors. In particular, strip-shaped samples were locally irradiated to create microscale modulations across their whole width. Magneto-optical imaging under electrical transport and magnetoresistive measurements imply that such tailored modulation in a superconducting strip can be exploited to develop a fully planar, single-compound, local magnetoresistive sensor.