Scientists have discovered a way to significantly improve the performance of a decades-old superconductor, promising future applications for particle accelerators and research magnets.

The new technique for connecting Bi-2212 round wires is an important step in building better, stronger superconducting magnets.

This high-tech spool is one big bobbin.

Reduced-size prototype coils for the 32 T all-superconducting magnet have been successfully tested. The results include the generation of 27 T, which is a record for superconducting magnets.

In a well-run library, an authoritative "Sssshhhh!!" will quiet things down in a jiffy.

At the MagLab, we value our quiet time, too — especially in the Millikelvin Facility, home to some of our most sensitive equipment and experiments. But we need more than a pursed-lipped librarian: We need a building designed from top to bottom to shield its magnets from the noise of external electromagnetic (EM) radiation.

And we're about to get it. We recently broke ground on an extension to the existing Millikelvin Facility, currently home to three superconducting magnets that scientists use for experiments at ultra-low temperatures.

The 1,640-square-foot addition will house two new superconducting magnets, including the much-anticipated 32 tesla all-superconducting magnet. Designed and built at the MagLab, the 32 T will shatter existing records for field strength in superconducting magnets when it comes online later this year.

The design of the $1.2-million Millikelvin addition reflects the many lessons learned from two decades operating the existing facility, said MagLab Facility Director John Kynoch. The walls of the windowless structure will include a layer of copper, effectively creating an EM radiation-blocking Faraday cage. The magnets will be positioned safely below ground, surrounded by concrete reinforced with non-magnetic rebar. The extension's high-quality electrical grounds will be separate from the main building.

Even the LED lighting and air conditioning are designed to minimize noise, air currents and temperature fluctuations that could disturb finicky experiments, said Tim Murphy, who oversees Millikelvin as director of the DC Field Facility.

"If your building temperature swings wildly," said Murphy, "you can see that in your data."

Years in the planning, the addition is designed not just to house magnets, but to do science.

"We're treating the building as part of the instrument," said Murphy, "not just some place you put the instrument."

The new building is slated for completion in the spring of 2017.


Text by Kristen Coyne. Photo by Stephen Bilenky.

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First direct evidence that filament fracture accompanies degradation of superconducting cables designed for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). The tokomak fusion reactor, now under construction in France, is an international collaboration crucial to future energy generation from nuclear fusion.

At the National MagLab and other labs across the globe, the race to discover ever-warmer superconductors is heating up. Find out what these materials are, what they’re good for and why this field is red hot.

MagLab engineers are building two cable-in-conduit superconducting coils for hybrid magnets, each with a resistive inner coil and a superconducting outer coil.

Scientists have developed a new way to test tape made of the promising high-temperature superconductor YBCO, a key step toward building stronger superconducting magnets.

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