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ArrowResearchers Set New World Records for High Temperature Superconducting Magnet

August 25, 2003

Janet Patten / Justin Schwartz
(850) 644-9651 / 644-0874

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Engineers and scientists at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (NHMFL) successfully tested an innovative 5 tesla high temperature superconductor (HTS) insert coil in a 20 tesla powered magnet at the laboratory on August 23, 2003. This test represents the first time that a superconducting magnet has ever generated magnetic fields of 25 tesla. The HTS insert coil broke at least seven world records, including the highest field generated in a superconducting magnet and highest increment of field in an HTS insert of useful size. These records were previously held by Japanese industrial scientists.

"This is a critical and essential technological breakthrough for high temperature superconducting materials for state-of-the-art magnets," stated project leader, Dr. Justin Schwartz. Dr. Schwartz and his team, in collaboration with Oxford Superconducting Technology of Carteret, New Jersey, have been working together for about a decade to demonstrate that HTS materials can be used to reach higher magnetic fields for research in chemistry, physics, biology, and medicine. This successful test is the culmination a concentrated three-year effort within this university/industry partnership. Dr. Ken Marken, the Project Leader at Oxford noted, “The drive for ever higher fields in commercial NMR spectroscopy magnets was a compelling motivation for Oxford’s investment in this achievement, and we look forward to using the technological advances demonstrated in our high field business."

“Every advance in high field superconducting magnet technology drives new and exciting scientific opportunities. For example, one of the most rapidly growing applications of superconducting magnet technology is the use of the MRI for improved diagnostic medicine. In biology and chemistry, these high field magnets play an important role in charting the human genome, understanding protein structure, and determining nucleic acid structure. The mysteries of complex biomolecules are being unlocked at higher fields, as well as studying real time changes in biological tissues,” commented Dr. Schwartz.

“This successful demonstration is an important step in meeting the need for high fields in superconducting magnets that has remained elusive for nearly two decades,” commented Dr. Jack Crow, director of the NHMFL. Superconducting magnet technology for almost twenty years has been limited to 20 tesla. The discovery of new HTS materials in the mid-1980’s opened up great potential for applying these materials in new technologies, however, researchers have found it an extremely challenging task. One of the original charges to the NHMFL by the National Science Foundation is to produce superconducting magnets at 25 tesla and beyond.

Oxford Superconducting Technology supplied long-lengths of Bi-2212 superconducting wire for the successful experimental program. The NHMFL and Oxford research teams spent much time on conductor development and characterization, coil winding studies, and the testing of coils in order to reach this world-record achievement.

The NHMFL is supported by the National Science Foundation and the State of Florida and operated by Florida State University, the University of Florida, and Los Alamos National Laboratory. It operates state-of-the-art user facilities at all three sites and offers researchers from a wide range of disciplines-including biology, chemistry, engineering, geochemistry, materials science, medicine, and physics-expanded opportunities to investigate new materials, complex chemical mixtures, and molecular structures.

The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory ( develops and operates state-of-the-art high-magnetic-field facilities that faculty and visiting scientists and engineers use for research in physics, biology, bioengineering, chemistry, geochemistry, biochemistry, and materials science. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the state of Florida, the lab is operated by Florida State University, and its 330,000-square-foot main facility is located in Tallahassee’s Innovation Park. The magnet lab also has facilities at the University of Florida and at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

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