Today’s particle accelerators, such as the wonderful LHC collider at CERN, need strong magnetic fields to keep particles in the desired path, at speeds approaching the speed of light. The higher the energy of the accelerating particles, the stronger the magnetic fields required for them. Experiments at the Large Hadron Collider require magnetic fields with extrapolation of about 8 tesla.
The problem is that the superconducting magnets operating in the LHC need about 20 minutes to form such a strong magnetic field. They are approaching at 0.006 Tesla per second. This is a technological limitation that LHC operators have to reckon with. Particle accelerators that do not contain superconducting magnets, but magnets with copper conductors that operate at room temperature, accelerate faster. The magnets in Japan’s J-PARC experiment can handle 70 Tesla per second, and Fermilab’s 8-GeV booster magnetization increases at a rate of 30 Tesla per second.
The state of superconducting magnets is complicated, among other things, by the fact that when they start very quickly, large “hot” points form with increasing temperature. This is a major complication for superconducting materials, as their superconducting properties disappear rapidly with increasing temperature.
Researchers at Fermilab are offering YBCO (yttrium barium copper oxide), which has long been known for superconducting at relatively high temperatures, as a solution to this insidious problem. Thanks to him, the researchers were able to create a superconducting magnet that operates at temperatures from 6 to 20 degrees K.
Using this new superconducting magnet, they were able to “push” the magnetic field at an astonishing rate of 290 Tesla per second. A particular beauty flaw is that this magnet is currently capable of creating a magnetic field of “only” 0.5 Tesla, or well below the 8 Tesla required for the Large Hadron Collider. However, scientists are convinced that they can increase the strength of the new magnet by adjusting the electric current flowing through the magnet.
The Fermilab team will continue to experiment with the new magnet. They intend to increase the electric current used and hope to speed up the “rise” of the magnetic field. The researchers believe the technology could be used in a variety of particle physics experiments, including the planned Future Circular Collider, which they want to launch in 2040 at CERN.
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