Center For Integrating Research and Learning

ArrowMaking Superconducting Magnets

Table of Contents

By Kristen Coyne


All of the magnets at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory are electromagnets: The electricity that runs through them generates the high magnetic fields into which scientists put their experiments. Most of our electromagnets are resistive magnets, instruments that use huge amounts of electricity to generate their high fields – as high as our world-record 35 tesla resistive magnet.

Magnet Academy

That makes for a daunting electricity bill of more than $7 million a year.

Like most people, we'd rather pay less for electricity. Which is one of the reasons (though not the only one) that we use, and build, another type of electromagnet: a superconducting magnet.

These instruments pull off quite a trick: They create very high fields without running up our utility bill.


Bitter plate and superconducting cable.

Resistive magnets are made of metal Bitter plates (left) stacked into a coil; Cable-in-conduit-conductor magnets are made using hundreds of superconducting wires twisted into cables (right), inserted into tubes and wound into a coil.


Although we're famous for making resistive magnets here, we're also world-leaders in designing and building superconducting magnets. This article explains why, and how, we make superconducting magnets.

Next Page ArrowSuperconductivity in a Nutshell

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