Combining tremendous strength with a high-quality field, the MagLab’s newest instrument promises big advances in interdisciplinary research.

A new x-ray instrument will become the strongest of its kind thanks to the power of the MagLab’s flagship split helix magnet.

When documentary filmmakers needed to know the bite force of a prehistoric megabeast, who did they turn to? The National MagLab.

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

A first-of-its-kind magnet called for a first-of-its-kind approach to quench analysis. MagLab engineers delivered.

This week at the lab, engineers are installing a new "control center" for one of our magnet systems that will result in faster experimental set-up times, more sensitive readings, and detailed information for functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) experiments — all contributing to a wide range of neuroscience applications, such as pharmacological MRI.

The beneficiary of this significant upgrade is an 11.1 tesla magnet located within the Advanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy (AMRIS) Facility, located at the University of Florida (UF). Used primarily for imaging the three-dimensional structure of living organisms, the system combines high magnetic fields with a particularly large bore (40 cm) and strong magnetic field gradients that allow large samples to be imaged with sub-millimeter resolution.

Scientists will use the magnet's new, custom-built control center — a custom-built Bruker AV3HD console with Paravision 6.0.1. — to program experiments, sending radio frequency pulses on a nanosecond scale and receiving signals back with information on their sample. It will support growing research in developing preclinical models for a variety of diseases, including the research program of new faculty member Matthew Merritt, an expert in in vivo metabolic flux measurements.

Please visit the page on the 11.1 tesla MRI/S system for more details.

This new console is made possible by joint funding from the MagLab and from UF’s McKnight Brain Institute, College of Medicine, and Division of Sponsored Programs.


Text and photo by Elizabeth Webb.

This week at the lab, the staff bids farewell to a scientist who joined the lab even before there was a building to work in.

William Denis Markiewicz, who goes by his middle name, has worked a quarter century in the MagLab’s Magnet Science & Technology department, a career book-ended by two flagship magnets that he designed.

Markiewicz was recruited by the brand new lab to oversee design and construction of the world-record 900 MHz Ultra-Wide Bore NMR spectrometer magnet.

Markiewicz vividly remembers those heady first years.

"I thought that I would be part of something brand new, and part of all of the excitement and high expectations that come with the start of something new," he said. "And I was not disappointed."

Now 11 years old, the famed 900 MHz magnet enabled nearly 70 publications on health-related discoveries in its first decade — and is still going strong.

Markiewicz departs the lab just as another magnet he designed, the 32 tesla all-superconducting magnet, is in its final stages of testing. Projected to smash magnet records and enable exciting new science in the years ahead, it uses novel high-temperature superconductors that generate stronger magnetic fields than conventional low-temperature superconductors.

The 32 tesla magnet program, said Markiewicz, "is an example of a very large and capable team at the MagLab working together to produce something that is very unique. There is no other facility now that is capable of doing this."

Among other highlights of his career, Markiewicz received the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers‘ Award for Continuing and Significant Contributions in the Field of Large Scale Applications of Superconductivity in 2015, and Florida State University's Distinguished Scholar Award in 2008.


Text by Kristen Coyne. Photo by Stephen Bilenky.

This week at the lab, we're preparing a home for a new magnet that will give more scientists access to some of the highest magnetic fields in the world.

The new Duplex Magnet, slated for completion this fall at the Pulsed Field Facility in Los Alamos, New Mexico, will reach fields up to 80 teslas, although it will most often run at 75 teslas to extend its lifetime. Like the other instruments available at the Pulsed Field Facility, the Duplex will generate these incredibly high fields for just a fraction of a second — still ample time for physicists to get valuable data.

But unlike the facility’s other magnets, the Duplex features two coils that will be powered by separate circuits and capacitors. This design helps operators better manage the temperature and stress the instrument is subjected to and allows for flexibility in future improvements.

The Duplex will be located near the facility’s primary workhorse, the 65 Tesla Multi-Shot Magnet. Featuring the same 15-millimeter bore for inserting experiments, it will enable more scientists to do cutting-edge experiments in these extreme fields.


Photo by Stephen Bilenky. Text by Kristen Coyne.

This week at the lab, we're trying a magnet on for size.

A research magnet is made of a set of coils engineered from a current-carrying material — a fancy version of the electromagnet many kids make in school using a wire, battery and nail. Typically, four or five coils are slid one inside the next like Russian nesting dolls.

This week, we're slipping the second coil of the highly anticipated 32 tesla all superconducting magnet over the inner-most coil, then making any necessary adjustments. Like a good pair of jeans, the fit should be snug but not tight, with a mere millimeter between the two coils.

"Assembling the coils and the entire electrical circuit is an intricate job, and an exiting one," said project leader Huub Weijers. "After almost seven years of development, design, testing and construction of components, the final magnet is taking shape in front of our eyes."

These two coils, which contain about 6 miles of superconducting tape made of the novel, high-temperature superconductor yttrium barium copper oxide (YBCO). But YBCO is only one layer in this magnet. Those coils will soon be nested inside five more of coils made of conventional superconductors, three of niobium-tin and two of niobium-titanium.

The finished, 2.3-ton magnet system, when completed this summer, will join the MagLab’s roster of world-record magnets. At 32 tesla, it will be by far the strongest superconducting user magnet in the world, surpassing the current record of 23.5 tesla.

"It’s a difficult task to work through the many details of a new technology," said the magnet's lead designer Adam Voran, who managed the computer modeling for the project. "But the reward of seeing those meticulous designs being born into a tangible reality is exhilarating."


Photo by Stephen Bilenky / Text by Kristen Coyne.

This week at the lab, Peng Chen starts a new job at the Applied Superconductivity Center (ASC), where he will contribute to developing a groundbreaking magnet with bismuth-strontium-calcium-copper-oxide (Bi-2212), a promising high-temperature superconductor.

Chen's new job sounds a lot like his old job: building a groundbreaking magnet at the ASC with Bi-2212. The main difference is that last week, Chen was still a graduate research assistant. This week, he is a postdoctoral research associate, having graduated Saturday from Florida State University (FSU) with a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering.

"I can relax a little bit," laughed Chen, who has put in long hours over the past several months writing and revising his thesis.

In addition to designing and building world-record magnets used by scientists from across the globe, the MagLab has an important educational mission. This includes training early-career scientists like Chen. It's not by accident that undergraduates, graduate students and postdocs make up 40 percent of the lab's staff.

Since arriving here from China five years ago, Chen has experienced an intense, hands-on education among the team building a Bi-2212-based, high-field, high-homogeneity nuclear magnetic resonance magnet dubbed the Platypus. ASC Director David Larbalestier, who is Chen's advisor, said Chen has shown a lot of grit in the face of tough technical problems that come with building a first-of-its-kind instrument. In fact, ASC is hoping to get a patent out of a fully superconducting joint Chen built for the Platypus.

"He combines an engineering viewpoint with a strong desire to understand what he is doing, which makes his approach to complex technical problems very valuable," said Larbalestier, who placed the blue doctoral hood on Chen during his graduation ceremony to signify his former student’s new status.

Chen said he is looking forward to his new role on the team.

"In the transition from student to postdoc, you have more freedom," said Chen. "It's not only about your dissertation; you have more choices to do different aspects of the project and to collaborate with other teammates to support them — take more responsibility. I have a feeling I will do more and broaden my duties."


Text by Kristen Coyne / Photo courtesy of Peng Chen.

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