Powerful Superconducting Magnet Breaks a World Record For Strength

Tuesday, 19 December 2017 - 6:49PM
Technology
Tuesday, 19 December 2017 - 6:49PM
Powerful Superconducting Magnet Breaks a World Record For Strength
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YouTube/National MagLab
Move over, Magneto - there's a new magnetic power which currently surpasses anything humanity has achieved thus far.

The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (National MagLab) created a brand new superconducting magnet that set a world record for strength (as measured in teslas). This new magnet is capable of generating a field which reaches 32 teslas, which is a third more powerful than the previous magnet to hold the record. Fittingly, it's nicknamed the "32T" by MagLab.

Maybe don't wear a watch while standing in the same room as this thing, if you want it to stay attached to your wrist. Or, alternatively, if you want your wrist to stay attached to your arm.



This ultra-powerful magnet hasn't just been created for bragging rights. There are a lot of different commonly used machines (and some less-common rail guns) that use superconducting magnets, such as MRI machines, nuclear reactors, and particle colliders.

It's expected that this new method for creating powerful magnets could be used to improve the functions that these tools are capable of, in addition to aiding general research into physics theories. According to MagLab's director Greg Boebinger, who said the following in a press release:

Opening quote
"This is a transformational step in magnet technology, a true revolution in the making. Not only will this state-of-the-art magnet design allow us to offer new experimental techniques here at the lab, but it will boost the power of other scientific tools such as X-rays and neutron scattering around the world."
Closing quote


This is good news for a variety of important technological equipment that's in regular use in labs around the world. At present, only one of these superconducting magnets exists, but MagLab is allowing research teams to apply to borrow their creation, so that we can all gain the greatest possible benefit from its existence.

What's more, this is only the beginning. Using similar techniques, it may be possible to further refine the design of superconducting magnets to open up yet more new avenues for research. In the words of MagLab engineer Huub Weijers, who said in the same press release that a maximum strength of over 100 teslas is absolutely possible:

Opening quote
"We've opened up an enormous new realm. I don't know what that limit is, but it's beyond 100 teslas. The required materials exist. It's just technology and dollars that are between us and 100 teslas."
Closing quote


It'll likely be a long time before this new invention filters down to the point that it makes a dramatic, noticeable impact on our lives. Bear in mind, though, the next time you have to get an X-ray, that new technology is on the way that could well make the photos of the inside of your body look even clearer and more detailed.

Just in case you ever wanted to know what the inside of your ribcage looks like up close.
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