Science & Research

Over the past century, superconductivity has expanded human knowledge of the natural world by enabling the advancements of new scientific tools and fostering new energy technologies.

Ultra-high field magnets using SuperPower® 2G HTS Wire is enabling increasingly powerful magnetic fields for advancements in high energy physics (accelerators & colliders), condensed matter physics (high-resolution NMR & EPR spectroscopy), biology and chemistry research, materials sciences, and physiology. Superconducting magnets have been an essential enabling technology for particle accelerators and colliders and play a key role in fusion devices, including the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER).

An important feature of a superconducting magnet is its ability to support a very high current density using little electrical power and with vanishingly small resistance. The higher magnetic fields produced by a superconducting magnet allow for more compact systems which occupy a smaller amount of laboratory space and have lower operating costs than their permanent magnet or resistive electromagnet counterparts.

To date, the applications mentioned herein have relied on LTS (low temperature superconductors) technology. LTS magnets have a limited temperature range of 1.8 to 6 K and a maximum magnetic field of 20 T. HTS magnets, however, have a much wider operating temperature range of 4 to 77 K and can produce high magnetic fields in the range of 20 to 50 T. These wider parameters allow for better application design flexibility and simplified cooling systems which will lead to further advancements in science and research.

Science and research applications that will benefit from the enabling technology of superconductors include:

Fusion Research
Using a tokamak, a type of experimental nuclear fusion reactor in which a plasma of atoms circulates in a toroidal tube and is confined to a narrow beam by an electromagnetic field, researchers conduct experiments to advance our understanding of fusion as a transformative source of energy for the world.

  • International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) – a collaboration of scientists from all over the world to work toward the goal of harnessing the energy produced by the fusion of atoms to help meet the increasing demand for energy. ITER is a large-scale scientific experiment intended to prove the viability of fusion as an energy source, and to collect the data necessary for the design and subsequent operation of the first electricity-producing fusion power plant. Construction is now underway on ITER, located in Cadarache, southern France.

    The ITER Agreement includes China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States. Members of the ITER Organization will bear the cost of the project through its 10-year construction phase and its 20-year operational phase before decommissioning.

Synchrotron Radiation
Synchrotron Radiation is generated by the acceleration of ultra-relativistic charged particles through a magnet field within the storage ring of a synchrotron and is used for a wide range of analytical techniques. The radiation produced can cover the electromagnetic spectrum from microwaves to high energy X-rays and is very intense, highly collimated and can be polarized both linearly and circularly. Undulator and wiggler devices are inserted in a free straight section of the storage ring of the synchrotron to produce more radiation or radiation with particular properties.

  • Undulators – insertion devices within the synchrotron that make the beam oscillate from side to side. They are arranged with an oscillation period, such that the radiation from one oscillation constructively interferes with the radiation from the next oscillation. This causes a very intense peak of radiation at one particular wavelength.
  • Wigglers – also an insertion device, makes the electron beam oscillate from side to side repeatedly. Each time the beam oscillates some synchrotron radiation is produced.

Particle Accelerators & Colliders
A scientific instrument which accelerates charged particles (increases the kinetic energy) such as protons, electrons, deuterons. The acceleration is achieved by using focused magnetic fields to route the beam of particles through a sealed vacuum chamber. The exact design of the beam's path and magnetic configuration determines the type of particle accelerator - cyclotron, synchrotron, betatron, tandem electrostatic accelerators, etc.

  • The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) – built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and located in Switzerland, is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator. LHC consists of a 27-kilometre ring of superconducting magnets with a number of accelerating structures to boost the energy of the particles along the way. The purpose of LHC is to allow physicists to test the predictions of different theories of particle physics and high-energy physics. The use of LHC was successful in proving the existence of the Higgs boson.
  • Muon collider – a new type of particle accelerator that speeds up subatomic particles called muons and makes them collide to discover new subatomic forces and particles. With the discoveries of a Higgs-like particle at the LHC, there has been renewed interest in a collider using muons because they would be well-suited to detailed studies of these particles.

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy
A research technique that exploits the magnetic properties of certain atomic nuclei and determines the physical and chemical properties of atoms or the molecules in which they are contained. NMR provides detailed information about the structure, dynamics, reaction state, and chemical environment of molecules. Most frequently, NMR spectroscopy is used by chemists and biochemists to investigate the properties of organic molecules.

Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) Spectroscopy
A versatile, nondestructive analytical technique which can be used for a variety of applications including oxidation and reduction processes, biradicals and triplet state molecules, reaction kinetics, as well as numerous additional applications in biology, medicine and physics. However, this technique can only be applied to samples having one or more unpaired electrons.


 
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