World record: The strongest magnetic fields created

Jun 28, 2011

On June 22, 2011, the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf set a new world record for magnetic fields with 91.4 teslas. To reach this record, Sergei Zherlitsyn and his colleagues at the High Magnetic Field Laboratory Dresden (HLD) developed a coil weighing about 200 kilograms in which electric current create the giant magnetic field – for a period of a few milliseconds. The coil survived the experiment unscathed.

"With this record, we're not really that interested in reaching top field values, but instead in using it for research in materials science," explains Joachim Wosnitza, the HLD's Director. The scientists are actually proud of being the first user lab worldwide to make such high magnetic fields available for research. The more powerful a magnetic field is, the more precisely the scientists can examine those substances which are used for innovative electronic components or for so-called superconductors which conduct electricity without any resistance. Such high magnetic fields are generated by passing an through a copper coil.

But the magnetic field also influences the electric current because it tries to push the electric current out of the coil. The stronger the current flows, the more powerful these forces are. "At 25 teslas, the copper would be torn apart," Joachim Wosnitza describes a potential scenario of this conflict between the magnetic field and the metal. In comparison: A standard commercial refrigerator magnet has 0.05 teslas.

In order to examine as closely as possible the electric charge in the materials of tomorrow, researchers need higher magnetic fields with, for example, 90 or 100 teslas. "At 100 teslas, though, the Lorentz force inside the copper would generate a pressure which equals 40,000 times the air pressure at sea level," calculates Joachim Wosnitza. These forces would tear copper apart like an explosion. That is why researchers use specific copper alloys which can withstand ten thousand times the atmospheric pressure. They then add a corset made from a special fiber that is typically used for bulletproof vests and which holds the alloy together from the outside. The HZDR technicians wind six of these special wires with corsets into a coil that has a hollow space of 16 millimeters at its center. This permits the generation of 50 teslas within this special coil when a brief but powerful electric pulse flashes through the copper – a process that is over after a mere 0.02 seconds.

But that's still, though, far away from the world record of 89 teslas which the US Americans held in Los Alamos for several years. And that is why the technicians put a second coil consisting of twelve layers of copper wire around the first one. This wire, though, can only withstand 2,500 times the atmospheric pressure. But protected by a plastic corset, a current pulse lasting only a fifth of a second suffices to create a 40 tesla magnetic field inside the coil. Together with the 50 teslas of the inner coil, this adds up to the world record of more than 90 teslas. Covered by a steel jacket, this double coil has a height of 55 centimeters and a diameter of 32 centimeters; thus, resembling a fairly large water bucket. For several weeks, the HZDR technicians worked on the coil which not only set the world record, but which will also permit many future studies of new materials in the record magnetic field.

For such experiments, researchers are flocking to Dresden not only from Regensburg, Garching, and Karlsruhe, but also from all over Europe. Even Japanese and US American scientists are already making reservations at the HZDR so that they can analyze their materials here. And since today the existing five rooms equipped with similar coils can no longer handle the crowds of researchers, an additional six of these "pulse cells" will be built by 2015. research at the HZDR actually continues to expand even after the .

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User comments : 26

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Nikola
not rated yet Jun 28, 2011
not too shabby
DoubleD
3 / 5 (8) Jun 28, 2011
"But that's still, though, far away from the world record of 89 teslas which the US Americans held in Los Alamos for several years."

the US Americans ?
ArkavianX
3.6 / 5 (8) Jun 28, 2011
See redundancy department of redundancy
Shelgeyr
1 / 5 (2) Jun 28, 2011
Love it. Good work, HLD!
fmfbrestel
not rated yet Jun 28, 2011
Cool, but um...

"so-called superconductors"?

I hope that's a bad translation instead of an intentional knock against the terminology.

anyway, impressive work for Krauts :-)
Simonsez
4.6 / 5 (9) Jun 28, 2011
"But that's still, though, far away from the world record of 89 teslas which the US Americans held in Los Alamos for several years."

the US Americans ?

Perhaps you've heard the terms "Central Americans," and "South Americans" ... Then again perhaps not.
Vendicar_Decarian
0.2 / 5 (38) Jun 28, 2011
That is an impressive strength for a fictitious force.
Shelgeyr
3.5 / 5 (6) Jun 28, 2011
VD, which particular force do you consider fictitious? Magnetic? Lorentz? The restraining power of fiber corsets?
Scottingham
5 / 5 (1) Jun 29, 2011
I think Vendicar_Decarian found the article particularly repulsive for some unknown reason.
Shelgeyr
1 / 5 (2) Jun 29, 2011
Scottingham: That's one of the best puns I've read in a long time. If I counted correctly, that's a quadruple entendre you've got going, and in precious few words. I have real trouble coming up with triple entendres, even when expounding at length, much less quadruple ones!

You're clever! Seriously! I'm not being sarcastic, and thanks!
kaasinees
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 29, 2011
"But that's still, though, far away from the world record of 89 teslas which the US Americans held in Los Alamos for several years."

the US Americans ?

Its funny when USAns think their country is called America, while its the name of their continent.
Could not think of any other reason for you to be confused, so yeah.
kaasinees
1 / 5 (2) Jun 29, 2011
Forgot to ask how many G's of repulsion it produces, i am not familiar with magnetic maths.

Also what was the efficiency of the electricity to magnetic field? Just pumping a lot of power through a special alloy is not very impressive unless its very efficient and could be used for fusion reactors.
Shelgeyr
1 / 5 (2) Jun 29, 2011
kassinees, I don't have the "math" nor "efficiency" answers for you, but I'm betting there's a very good chance the people over at focusfusion.org might.

Full disclosure: nothing to disclose - I don't have a relationship of any kind (other than being a fan from a distance) with Focus Fusion. Really wish I did, but I don't.
Nik_2213
not rated yet Jun 29, 2011
"The coil survived the experiment unscathed."
Now *that* is impressive, considering such field strengths used to need explosive compression...
Shelgeyr
1 / 5 (2) Jun 29, 2011
Nik_2213, The restraining power of fiber corsets rocks!

Now THERE's a bumper sticker that would turn heads...
Occupodies
not rated yet Jun 29, 2011
Don't worry Lanl will just have to pack more explosives into their experiments to win again.
Vendicar_Decarian
0.1 / 5 (34) Jun 29, 2011
VD, which particular force do you consider fictitious? Magnetic?" - Shelgeyr

Correct.

Magnetic force is a fiction.
Shelgeyr
1 / 5 (2) Jun 30, 2011
Vendicar_Decarian says:
Magnetic force is a fiction.


While being taken aback in total surprise, my response is: "I'm listening... Please go on..."
lomed
not rated yet Jul 01, 2011
I think he is referring to the fact that it arises from a lorentz transform of a static electric field (i.e., there is no magnetic field in the inertial frame in which an electron is (in this case only momentarily) at rest). So, it is a fictitious force in the sense that it can be removed via a coordinate transformation (like the coriolis force or gravity in GR).
Shelgeyr
1 / 5 (2) Jul 01, 2011
lomed, IF that's the argument, I think the obvious rejoinder would be that in reality an electron is never at rest, so it would be the (I assume) mathematical construct of "an electron even momentarily at rest" which would be fictional, not the magnetic force itself. Of course, I'm making a stab in the dark there, if it's not too obvious...

I'm looking forward to VD's reply to my prior post, if he does.
Shelgeyr
1 / 5 (2) Jul 01, 2011
Of course, I should probably point out that contrary to what's commonly taught in beginning calculus, I'm one of those guys who claim that an "equilateral infinitagon" isn't really a circle at all, and (even worse) that the distinction is probably really important in some way I have yet to figure out.

So, you know, when it comes to my math... grain of salt time!
TheWalrus
not rated yet Jul 03, 2011
The United States of America is the only country with "America" in its name. Mexico is officially "Estados Unidos Mexicanos," or "The United States of Mexico." Why do people love to point out--ignorantly and arrogantly--that the name of the USA is NOT "America?"
harito
not rated yet Jul 03, 2011
its very difficult to produce 90 tesla of magnetic field which america cant get ,but the HLD has done it by doing
big experiments
Pratyeka
not rated yet Jul 03, 2011
The United States of America is the only country with "America" in its name. Mexico is officially "Estados Unidos Mexicanos," or "The United States of Mexico." Why do people love to point out--ignorantly and arrogantly--that the name of the USA is NOT "America?"


States: One of the more or less internally autonomous territorial and political units composing a federation under a sovereign government.

United: grouped together

America: a geographic location

America is not the United States, it is a continent. USA just means the US of America, to specify which United States you are referring to. Guess what the United States of the European continent is? (European Union)
jsa09
not rated yet Jul 04, 2011
don't forget the United States of Australia but we dropped the full title because of possible problems with the acronym.
Guy_Underbridge
not rated yet Jul 04, 2011
Just think how much stuff could I stick to the door of my fridge with that baby?

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