26 November 2012

MagLab teams up with Dutch lab on record-tying magnet

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Cementing its reputation as the global go-to for world-class magnet engineering, the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (MagLab) has signed a $2.9 million agreement to collaborate with Nijmegen High Magnetic Field Lab on a multi-year magnet construction project. The project is slated for completion in 2017.

12 T outsert magnetThe MagLab will design and build the 12 tesla superconducting portion, or “outsert,” of the Nijmegen hybrid magnet. A 33 tesla resistive magnet, or “insert,” will go inside the superconducting magnet. Nijmegen, the national magnet lab of the Netherlands, plans to match the magnetic field of the MagLab’s 13-year-old 45 Tesla hybrid magnet, the world’s strongest. Capitalizing in part on the MagLab’s technological advances since the construction of the Tallahassee magnet, the new system aims to use 33 percent less power while achieving a field of equal intensity.

A hybrid magnet is a piece of scientific equipment engineered to achieve a high steady magnetic field — in this case, a field a million times that of earth. Reaching such a high field requires the marriage of two technologies: resistive magnets and superconducting magnets. In a hybrid, the superconducting system is wrapped around the resistive system in such a way that the two magnetic fields combine to reach a higher field than feasible if either system were built separately. The MagLab will design and build the 12 tesla superconducting portion of the Nijmegen hybrid magnet.

Scientists use these high fields to conduct research on materials with promise for applications ranging from better transistors to lower-cost energy.

Today there are five hybrid magnets under construction worldwide, to be installed in labs in Berlin, Germany; Tallahassee, Florida; Grenoble, France; Hefei, China; and Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Of these five magnets, four are adopting technology pioneered at the MagLab, and three will have key portions designed and fabricated in Tallahassee.

The Magnet Lab holds world records for four types of research magnets; the hybrids described above are one. All-resistive magnets form the core of the MagLab’s user program and provide world-record fields up to 35 tesla in a user-friendly configuration. The lab’s pulsed magnets, which reach even higher fields for very short periods of time, are located at the Los Alamos branch of the MagLab and can reach fields exceeding 100 tesla for a fraction of a second. The lab is also home to the world’s most powerful MRI machine, capable of imaging small animals at 21 tesla (as compared to the 3-tesla machines available in hospitals).