25 Tesla, world-record 'split magnet' makes its debut

Jul 13, 2011
Interior parts for the split coil magnet were tested and retested to ensure the magnet’s structural integrity. Credit: Florida State University

A custom-built, $2.5 million "split magnet" system with the potential to revolutionize scientific research in a variety of fields has made its debut at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University.

The world-record magnet is operating at 25 tesla, easily besting the 17.5 tesla French record set in 1991 for this type of magnet. ("Tesla," named for early 20th-century and engineer Nikola Tesla, is a measurement of the strength of a .) In addition to being 43 percent more powerful than the previous world best, the new magnet also has 1,500 times as much space at its center, allowing room for more flexible, varied experiments.

To offer some perspective on the strength of the new magnet, consider this: Twenty-five tesla is equal to a whopping 500,000 times the Earth's magnetic field. Imagine that much power focused on a very small space and you have some idea what the split magnet is capable of — and why both engineers and scientists at the magnet lab are so excited.

"The Mag Lab has developed numerous magnets; however, the split magnet makes the largest single step forward in technology over the past 20 years," said Mark Bird, director of the laboratory's Magnet Science and Technology division.

For decades, scientists have used high magnetic fields to probe the unusual properties of materials under extreme conditions of heat and pressure. There are unique benefits that arise at especially high magnetic fields — certain atoms or molecules become more easily observable, for example, or exhibit properties that are difficult to observe under less extreme conditions. The powerful new split magnet system holds promise for even more breakthroughs at the very edge of human knowledge.

The new magnet was funded by the National Science Foundation and represents years of intense collaboration between the lab's engineering and research teams, headed by scholar/scientist Jack Toth of the Magnet Science and Technology staff.

The magnet's design required Toth's team to rethink the structural limits of resistive magnets — that is, those in which the magnetic field is produced by the flow of electric current. The project required that the engineers invent, patent and find sometimes-elusive builders for the technology that could carry their idea through. The result of their work, the new split magnet, features four large elliptical ports that provide scientists with direct, horizontal access to the magnet's central experimental space, or bore, while still maintaining a high magnetic field.

High-powered research magnets are created by packing together dense, high-performance copper alloys and running an electrical current through them. All of the magnet's forces are focused on the center of the magnet coil — right where Toth and his team engineered the four ports. Building a magnet system with ports strong enough to withstand such strong magnetic fields and such a heavy power load was once considered impossible.

To accomplish the impossible, Toth's team cut large holes in the mid-plane of the magnet to provide user access to the bore but maintain a high magnetic field. All of this had to be done while supporting 500 tons of pressure pulling the two halves of the magnet together and, at the same time, allowing 160,000 amps of electrical current and 3,500 gallons of water per minute to flow through the mid-plane. (The water is needed to keep the magnet from overheating.)

While the technological breakthroughs enabling the magnet's construction are important, the multidisciplinary research possibilities are even more exciting. Optics researchers in chemistry, physics and biology are poised to conduct research using the split magnet, while others are optimistic about the potential for breakthroughs in nanoscience and semiconductor research.

The magnet's first user, a scientist from Kent State University, has already begun conducting experiments.

"Among other research possibilities," said Eric Palm, director of the magnet lab's Direct Current User Program, "the split magnet will allow optics researchers unprecedented access to their samples, improve the quality of their data, and enable new types of experiments."

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User comments : 13

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KBK
4 / 5 (4) Jul 13, 2011
Not exactly the same thing..but..90 Teslas done in Dresden, just the other day.

Which is so crazy that it is about 550k PSI of force trying to blow the Dresden magnet apart.
SemiNerd
5 / 5 (5) Jul 13, 2011
Difference between small core very brief duration( <.5sec) 92 Tesla field fields and 25 Tesla but large core and essentially infinite duration fields is substantial. The kinds of experiments one can do with the 92 Tesla magnet and the 25 Tesla magnet are worlds apart.
Scottingham
5 / 5 (6) Jul 13, 2011
I love living in the future.
that_guy
5 / 5 (7) Jul 13, 2011
I think the main thing we need to take away from here is that it takes 10 teslas to levitate a frog.

If the lab technicians are anything like me - and I'm sure they are - they will be taking bets on which small animals they can get to float in the magnetic field.

In a couple years, they'll get bored of it and do some actual science.
rawa1
1 / 5 (1) Jul 13, 2011
The record for stationary magnetic field is still much higher than that, i.e. the 45 Tesla. It was achieved with using of hybrid combination of resistive and superconducting electromagnets in Tallahassee lab.

http://www.hzdr.d...pNid=404
akaryrye
5 / 5 (5) Jul 13, 2011
magnets ... how do they work?
theknifeman
5 / 5 (3) Jul 13, 2011
My car will swerve into a liquor store parking lot at 8 Tesla. Sometimes it can't stand the force and parts do come off of it.

DrSo
5 / 5 (1) Jul 13, 2011
Yes, now put it in a car so I can fly!

Thank you.
Graeme
not rated yet Jul 13, 2011
How do they make 160,000 amps DC at a low voltage? I assume the resistance of this is low else there will be megawatts of heat produced. (But perhaps there is that much heat)
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Jul 14, 2011
From here:
http://www.scienc...1646.htm

To accomplish the impossible, Toth's team cut large holes in the mid-plane of the magnet to provide user access to the bore but maintain a high magnetic field. All of this had to be done while supporting 500 tons of pressure pulling the two halves of the magnet together and, at the same time, allowing 160,000 amps of electrical current and 3,500 gallons of water per minute to flow through the mid-plane. (The water is needed to keep the magnet from overheating.)
Simonsez
not rated yet Jul 14, 2011
Can someone familiar with the effects tell me, what will happen to a human being (or I suppose other living thing) standing in the center of the magnetic field produced? I see the comment about levitating a frog, so I suspected it would have no ill effects. Then I realized there is no mention of whether that is a living or dead frog.
Shelgeyr
1 / 5 (1) Jul 14, 2011
The magnet's design required Toth's team to rethink the structural limits of resistive magnets that is, those in which the magnetic field is produced by the flow of electric current.


I think that's an odd way to phrase the distinction, seeing how ALL magnetic fields are created by electric currents, even those within permanent magnets. Perhaps they meant "...produced by the flow of an external electric current"?

There's probably a better way to phrase it than either theirs or mine, but I'm curious as to why they wanted to make the distinction.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Jul 14, 2011
Can someone familiar with the effects tell me, what will happen to a human being (or I suppose other living thing) standing in the center of the magnetic field produced?


There's a couple of effects I can think of:
1) Hemoglobin in blood contains iron which will align in a magnetic field. Though this will probably not affect you (or get noticed)

If you move within a strong magnetic gradient (i.e. everywhere where the field is not uniform) then you'll induce an electric current in any kind of non-perfect insulator (like the human body). Strong gradients can, for example, drectly stimulate nerve endings (e.g. if these nerve endings are in the eye then you'd perceive sudden flashes of light. But you can also stimulate pain centers or parts of the brain)

Parts where there are strong conductivity differentials will heat up (the skin on bones is prone to this and you may get internal burns. Very painful)

If you have tatoos made of metal based inks you may be in trouble. ...

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