Magnetics Business & Technology - Summer 2015 - (Page 22)

RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT MagLab Claims Record with Novel Superconducting Magnet A MagLab-made magnet that is more of LTS cousins, a big plus. That property also a strong, silent type nonetheless made a allows them to remain superconducting to loud splash when it broke the world record much higher magnetic fields than LTS mafor an all-superconducting magnet. terials. Built with both traditional and novel The magnet tested in June features a superconducting materials, the magnet mix of YBCO tape and LTS wire, as will the reached a field of 27 teslas on June 5 in a finished 32 T. SuperPower president Yusei test that exceeded designers' expectations. Shirasaka shared the excitement over the The magnet is a smaller version of an even achievement and his company's partnermore powerful magnet due for completion ship with the MagLab. "Our relationship with the MagLab has next year, a 32 tesla all-superconducting allowed us to grow and learn, with the magnet that will be substantially stronger constant drive to perfect our products," than any such magnet built to date. Shirasaka said. "SuperPower's recent ad Tesla (T for short) is a measure of magvances in pinning structure, thinner subnetic field strength: A typical magnet used strates and other improvements will form in an MRI machine is 2 to 3 T. The 27 T field the basis for the MagLab's next generareached last week was 3.5 T stronger than tion of magnets." the strongest superconducting magnet currently in operation (in Lyon, France) and Another partner on the 32 T project was 1 T stronger than a superconducting test Oxford Instruments, which constructed the magnet built earlier this year in South KoLTS coils. The HTS coils and other key techrea. For decades, engineering and materials nologies were developed and constructed advances have nudged the record up only at the MagLab. The prototype that intebit by bit. Last week's feat brings MagLab grates the LTS and HTS coils performed engineers to the home stretch of the sevenbeautifully in its tests, reported MagLab year 32 T project. engineer Huub Weijers. As director of the 32 T project, Weijers has tested a number "It's been a very difficult and long road, to such an extent that some people have This YBCO test coil helped the MagLab set a of magnet coils over the years. "This is the first time with the prowondered whether these magnets would new world record for superconducting magtotypes that we've not had something ever become a reality," said MagLab Direc- nets: 27 teslas. that wasn't quite right," Weijers said of tor Greg Boebinger. "So to make such a last week's test. "Every time, there was huge stride with this next-to-final version a piece here or a part there that wasn't of the magnet gives us great optimism that quite right, that was limiting us overall. the completed 32 T magnet will perform This time there was no such irregularity. to spec, representing the biggest breakthrough in superconducting magnet techWe just reached the maximum perfornologies, in terms of peak fields, since the mance of the conductor, which is ideally mid 1970s." where you'd like to get." As the name suggests, superconducting The MagLab boasts several instruments magnets are made with superconductthat are stronger than 32 T, including two ing materials, materials that carry current resistive magnets and the world-record without the friction (and attendant heat) 45 T hybrid magnet. However, as the found in regular electricity. The catch with world's strongest superconducting, the conventional low-temperature supercon- The high-temperature superconductor ytrium 32 T will be able to run longer hours, be ductors (LTS) is that they operate only at barium copper oxide -- YBCO for short -- was cheaper to operate, and offer important painstakingly fashioned into a tape, then wound exceedingly cold temperatures, around to make the magnet's insert coils. advantages for some types of experi-460°F. For the past three decades, almost ments. Superconductors create steadier, all superconducting magnets have been "quieter" fields than resistive magnets made with niobium tin and niobium titanium wire, both LTS materi- (which depend on conventional current) that are important for als that need liquid helium to stay cold. But limits inherent to those experiments in nuclear magnetic resonance, electron magnetic materials have prevented engineers from making more powerful resonance and other areas of research that require more sensisuperconducting magnets. tive measurements. Enter YBCO, a superconducting material discovered in 1986 that, The successful test gives Weijers and his team new momentum after years of development, is expected to make its debut as a as they approach the final phases of the project. The completed magnet for scientists in the finished 32 tesla. Short for yttrium 32 T magnet is projected to be ready for scientists in the first half barium copper oxide, YBCO is a high-temperature superconductor of 2016. (HTS) that was fashioned into a tape-like form by SuperPower Inc. "We pushed it to the limit," said Weijers. "All those things comof Schenectady, NY, in collaboration with the MagLab. HTS super- bined make us quite confident that we can make 32 T." conductors are superconducting at higher temperatures than their "Knock on wood," added Boebinger. 22 Magnetics Business & Technology * Summer 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Magnetics Business & Technology - Summer 2015

Editor's Choice
Bonded Magnets: A Versitile Class of Permanent Magnets
Spintronics on Paper: The Whys and Wherefores
Magnets, Materials & Assemblies
Software & Design
Research & Development
Industry News
Marketplace / Advertising Index
Spontaneous Thoughts: The Rate Determining Step

Magnetics Business & Technology - Summer 2015