Superconductors conduct large amounts of electricity without losses. They are also used to create very large magnetic fields, for example in MRI machines, to study materials and medicine. Here, researchers developed a fast, new "smart" technique to measure how much current a superconductor can carry using very high pulsed magnetic fields.

Tests of the first Integrated Coil Form test coil wound using REBCO superconducting tape show promise for use in ultra powerful magnets of the future.

Emergence of unusual metallic state supports role of "charge stripes" in formation of charge-carrier pairs essential to resistance-free flow of electrical current.

The compact coil could lead to a new generation of magnets for biomedical research, nuclear fusion reactors and many applications in between.

With funding from the National Science Foundation, scientists and engineers will determine the best way to build a new class of record-breaking instruments.

MagLab experts fine-tuned a furnace for pressure-cooking a novel superconducting magnet. Now they're about to build its big brother.

A material already known for its unique behavior is found to carry current in a way never before observed.

MagLab-industry partnership ups the critical current density of this high-temperature superconductor by a third.

Game-changing technology may hold the key to ever-stronger magnets needed by scientists.

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.

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