Magnet Lab to Investigate Promising Superconductor

Oct 13, 2009

( -- The Applied Superconductivity Center at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory has received $1.2 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to understand and enhance a new form of superconducting material that could be used to build more-powerful magnets used in a wide range of scientific research.

The grant is part of a larger $4 million award over two years to a collaboration -- the Very High Field Superconducting Magnet Collaboration -- for which David C. Larbalestier, the magnet lab’s chief materials scientist and director of the Applied Center, and Alvin Tollestrup of Fermilab are the project leaders.

Superconductivity is a phenomenon observed in several materials. When cooled to extremely low temperatures, superconductors have no electrical resistance, meaning can travel through them freely. Because of this, superconducting materials can carry large amounts of electrical current for long periods of time without losing energy as heat.

The DOE funds will enable Larbalestier, Eric Hellstrom, Jianyi Jiang, Ulf Trociewitz and others at the magnet lab to investigate a complex superconducting material with the unwieldy name of bismuth strontium calcium , or BSCCO-2212.

This material is unique among all of the so-called high-temperature superconductors because it can be made into round wires, a form that is much more flexible for making magnets. The goal of the new magnet lab research is to thoroughly understand BSCCO-2212’s performance limits and to construct superconducting research magnets far more powerful than those currently made with niobium-based materials. (Bismuth and niobium are both metals that exhibit superconducting properties when exposed to extremely low temperatures.)

“This material is very promising, but it’s very complex and not very strong,” Larbalestier said. “The DOE has entrusted us with the funds to make a broad U.S. collaboration that directly addresses both the fundamental processing and grain boundary science of these fascinating materials and their application to new generations of magnets, both at the magnet lab and in the DOE high-energy physics laboratories.”

Developing higher-field superconducting magnets would transform high-field research, significantly reducing the costs to operate the magnets. Non-superconducting electromagnets, called resistive magnets, consume massive amounts of electricity. At the magnet lab, the average cost to run a resistive magnet is $774 per hour -- 40 times more than a 20-tesla superconducting magnet, because once a superconducting magnet is brought to full field, it can operate perpetually. That would allow scientists to remain at high fields for hours and even days, since operating costs would be dramatically lower than they are now.

The other institutions participating in the collaboration are Brookhaven National Laboratory, Fermilab, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and Texas A&M University.

Traditional, niobium-based cannot generate fields above about 24 tesla, but in October 2008, magnet lab engineers constructed a BSCCO-2212 test coil that achieved 32 tesla. (Tesla is the scientific unit of measure of magnetic field strength; 32 tesla is more than 3,000 times stronger than a refrigerator magnet.)

“This collaboration provides major DOE support toward a central goal of the National Science Foundation,” Larbalestier said. “It’s a great example of multiple stakeholders working together to push high field magnet development to the next level.”

More information:… ch/asc/overview.html

Provided by Florida State University (news : web)

Explore further: New complex oxides could advance memory devices

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New World Record For Superconducting Magnet Set

Aug 07, 2007

A collaboration between the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University and industry partner SuperPower Inc. has led to a new world record for a magnetic field created by a superconducting magnet.

Team to build next-generation magnet

Sep 26, 2006

The National Science Foundation has awarded the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory an $11.7-million grant for construction of an innovative magnet that will have the potential to revolutionize a technique ...

Recommended for you

New complex oxides could advance memory devices

15 hours ago

The quest for the ultimate memory device for computing may have just taken an encouraging step forward. Researchers at The City College of New York led by chemist Stephen O'Brien have discovered new complex ...

And so they beat on, flagella against the cantilever

Sep 16, 2014

A team of researchers at Boston University and Stanford University School of Medicine has developed a new model to study the motion patterns of bacteria in real time and to determine how these motions relate ...

Tandem microwave destroys hazmat, disinfects

Sep 16, 2014

Dangerous materials can be destroyed, bacteria spores can be disinfected, and information can be collected that reveals the country of origin of radiological isotopes - all of this due to a commercial microwave ...

Physicists design zero-friction quantum engine

Sep 16, 2014

( —In real physical processes, some energy is always lost any time work is produced. The lost energy almost always occurs due to friction, especially in processes that involve mechanical motion. ...

User comments : 0