Award-Winning Imaging System Aids Development of Practical Superconductors
San Diego, CA
An Argonne scientist demonstrates the Magnetic Flux Imaging System, which Phase Metrics uses to evaluate high-temperature superconducting materials, such as thin-film devices.
A magneto-optical imaging capability developed by Argonne, Phase Metrics, and the Institute of Solid State Physics (Moscow, Russia) could be the key to developing superconducting materials that carry 10 times more current than was previously possible. With the new method, scientists can see for the first time the precise path of electrical current as it flows through high-temperature superconductors. The technique could be the key to developing superconducting materials that carry current 10 times greater than previously possible.
The HTS wires that U.S. companies now make in long (hundreds of meters) lengths carry current in 10% or less of their cross sections. Knowledge of the current's flow path is essential for improving the microstructure of the wires and raising their electrical performance closer to their inherent ability. The new magneto-optical imaging capability allows scientists to observe electrical current flow in superconducting wires on a micrometer scale.
The Magnetic Flux Imaging System won a 1996 R&D 100 Award, and its developers won a 1997 Federal Laboratory Consortium award for excellence in technology transfer.
Argonne's work was supported by two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) offices within Energy Research (Laboratory Technology Research Program; and Basic Energy Sciences, Materials Sciences) and by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (Newly Independent States-Industrial Partnering Program Office) and the National Science Foundation's Office of Science and Technology Centers.
"Phase Metrics is a leading supplier of test equipment for the hard-disk-drive industry. Our work with Argonne has allowed us to explore a specialized sector of the new high-temperature superconductivity market." -- Carlos Duran, Senior Staff Scientist, Phase Metrics
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