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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Superconducting materials for large scale applications

  • Author(s): Scanlan, Ronald M.
  • Malozemoff, Alexis P.
  • Larbalestier, David C.
  • et al.

Significant improvements in the properties of superconducting materials have occurred recently. These improvements are being incorporated into the latest generation of wires, cables, and tapes that are being used in a broad range of prototype devices. These devices include new, high field accelerator and NMR magnets, magnets for fusion power experiments, motors, generators, and power transmission lines. These prototype magnets are joining a wide array of existing applications that utilize the unique capabilities of superconducting magnets: accelerators such as the Large Hadron Collider, fusion experiments such as ITER, 930 MHz NMR, and 4 Tesla MRI. In addition, promising new materials such as MgB2 have been discovered and are being studied in order to assess their potential for new applications. In this paper, we will review the key developments that are leading to these new applications for superconducting materials. In some cases, the key factor is improved understanding or development of materials with significantly improved properties. An example of the former is the development of Nb3Sn for use in high field magnets for accelerators. In other cases, the development is being driven by the application. The aggressive effort to develop HTS tapes is being driven primarily by the need for materials that can operate at temperatures of 50 K and higher. The implications of these two drivers for further developments will be discussed. Finally, we will discuss the areas where further improvements are needed in order for new applications to be realized.

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