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United Kingdom Science Technology

Cambridge Team Breaks Superconductor World Record 73

Posted by samzenpus
from the light-as-a-feather dept.
An anonymous reader writes University of Cambridge scientists have broken a decade-old superconducting record by packing a 17.6 Tesla magnetic field into a golf ball-sized hunk of crystal — equivalent to about three tons of force. From the Cambridge announcement: "A world record that has stood for more than a decade has been broken by a team led by University of Cambridge engineers, harnessing the equivalent of three tonnes of force inside a golf ball-sized sample of material that is normally as brittle as fine china. The Cambridge researchers managed to 'trap' a magnetic field with a strength of 17.6 Tesla — roughly 100 times stronger than the field generated by a typical fridge magnet — in a high temperature gadolinium barium copper oxide (GdBCO) superconductor, beating the previous record by 0.4 Tesla."
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Cambridge Team Breaks Superconductor World Record

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  • Stronger? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by i kan reed (749298) on Monday June 30, 2014 @10:29AM (#47350029) Homepage Journal

    I'm impressed, but I'm not sure about even the most theoretical engineering applications of a little more field strength. Higher heat tolerance is easy to grapple with, but this an improvement that's hard to imagine practical applications for.

    • by MRe_nl (306212) on Monday June 30, 2014 @10:36AM (#47350091)

      Stronger magnetic fields could also be used to reinforce antimatter containment, although they might not prevent an impending warp core breach.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Stronger magnetic fields could also be used to reinforce antimatter containment, although they might not prevent an impending warp core breach.

        Of course not. But if you could just reverse the polarity, you'd hopefully deionize the plasma.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Of course not. But if you could just reverse the polarity, you'd hopefully deionize the plasma

          And once you've done that, you can re-route it through the main EPS grid and send it straight to the deflector array.

          • by synaptik (125) *
            Do you have any idea what that would do to the tachyon flux?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Field strength limit of a superconductor limits the current density it can carry before it loses superconductivity. Higher field strength limit means the same superconductor cross section can carry more current, or alternatively you need less superconductor for a given application. In some situations that can also affect what temperature is used too, as typically the colder the superconductor gets, the higher its field limit. A lot of high temperature superconductors that would superconduct with liquid n

    • NMR/MRI? Better magnetic "mirrors" and/or "lenses" for focusing beams in things like the LHC or even just an electron microscope? Those are a few applications. OK, in NMR the highest field magnets are already >20T, but those have two major differences from this. First, they're wound coils that focus the highest field in a small area, where this appears to be basically a puck; presumably properly optimizing the geometry (and fabrication process to get there) will allow higher fields. Second, and perhaps m

      • Better magnetic "mirrors" and/or "lenses" for focusing beams in things like the LHC or even just an electron microscope?

        Actually it is not the focussing magnets for the LHC but more the bending magnets. Doubling the field strength will roughly double the energy we could reach. However you have to be able to make several tens of kilometres of these magnets for that which means they have to be incredibly stable otherwise the machine will not work. Currently we use 9.6T bending magnets - this is no where near a world record but stability is very important.

    • this an improvement that's hard to imagine practical applications for.

      Well you could using this field strength to levitate frogs [youtube.com] which would make for a cool lecture demonstration!

      • by Jeremi (14640)

        Well you could using this field strength to levitate frogs which would make for a cool lecture demonstration!

        Don't kid yourself, man. This technology is going to be militarized into a frog-railgun ASAP. If a biblical rain of frogs is the only language the North Koreans understand, then by God that's what we'll give them.

  • Well (Score:5, Funny)

    by MRe_nl (306212) on Monday June 30, 2014 @10:29AM (#47350031)

    I'm off to buy roughly 101 fridge magnets, and you'll be seeing me in the Beer Book of Bets shortly.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      That's either incredibly funny, or woefully ignorant....I'm going to go with... funny.
      Lol

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You just need one, super cooled. Put it on the freezer.

    • by Cramer (69040)

      Multiply by ten, twice, and you'll be closer to the "3 ton" field. I use hard drive voice coil magnets, and most of those don't have 60lbs (1/100th of 3 tonnes) of force. And those are some of the strongest magnets to which consumers have access. The "standard" fridge magnet holding force is at best ounces (grams).

  • >> a strength of 17.6 Tesla â" roughly 100 times stronger than the field generated by a typical fridge magnet ...only if you have the kind of fridge magnets that once in place are then permanently inseperable from your fridge.

    • I dont know about you but I use old neodymium magnets from hard drives as my fridge magnets and they are about 1.2T to 1.7T so roughly 100x my fridge magnets lol

    • by jovius (974690)

      Umm yes. It's a fridge magnet, not a magnet that attaches to a fridge.

      • Re:ummm...nope (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Firethorn (177587) on Monday June 30, 2014 @11:16AM (#47350397) Homepage Journal

        Which would be odd, seeing as how in US parlance 'fridge magnet' does indeed mean a magnet intended to attach to your fridge, typically containing advertising or cute sayings, or holding things like sheets of your kid's art up.

        Per wiki a typical fridge magnet is 5 mt, or .005 Tesla. So this experiment is more like 3000X as strong as a fridge magnet.

        This thing is 10X as strong as most of my 'fridge' magnets, but then I like to play with neodymium ones.

        Going by my experience, their 'fridge magnets' would hold to a fridge very well without requiring excessive strength to pull off. Most of mine you have to think about it a bit.

        Oh, and 16T is enough to levitate a frog. [wikipedia.org]

        • by jovius (974690)

          I see that my poor attempt about a magnet that attracts fridges didn't catch very well.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Small, cheap non-rare earth permanent magnets can be pretty strong, up to a sizable fraction of a Tesla. Fridge magnets tend to be many poled, so the strength drops off quite rapidly from the surface of the magnet, to the point the strength of the field you measure might depend on the size of the hall sensor you use and its housing. That said, most of them are weaker than 0.1 Tesla.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The fucking owners of /. ratcheting it up a notch, this morning landed again on beta, despite for not asking it.
    Than the clicker to go back to classic did not work...
    I was like WTF, they now need extra scripts or what to make that trip back to the old...
    About a minute or so, the page reloaded and the link work as it is supposed too.
    I think I was just subject of an experiment, very much like the one on farcebook, forced to look at the vomit called beta...
    The message is, beta is coming, resistance is futile
    Yo

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Magnetic levitation perpetual motion hovercars will be in production any minute now!

  • by camperdave (969942) on Monday June 30, 2014 @10:39AM (#47350109) Journal
    One of the hazards that long duration space travellers will face is radiation. The Earth's magnetic field draws incoming particles to the poles, thus protecting us. Could these powerful magnets be utilized on spacecraft to provide a similar function, drawing incoming particles to a sacrificial target or an area of the spacecraft that is hardened against radiation?
    • Re:Shielding (Score:4, Informative)

      by WaffleMonster (969671) on Monday June 30, 2014 @11:10AM (#47350341)

      One of the hazards that long duration space travelers will face is radiation. The Earth's magnetic field draws incoming particles to the poles, thus protecting us.

      Miles of atmosphere between earthly peeps and space stops most of it. Earths atmosphere provides equivalent protection of about 33 ft of water.

      • Perfect! Wrap the ship in a 33-foot water blanket, wrapped in a skin of high-strength magnets.
        Now you have a water supply once you land ... except that on Mars, you still need the blanket and magnets as that planet has (relatively speaking) no magnetic field and nearly no atmosphere.

        Figure out how to re-start the magnetic dymano before trying to restore an atmosphere, else the solar wind will strip it away again.
        / Earth and Venus have strong magnetopsheres, Mars does not. The gas giants are too far out an

    • by ganjadude (952775)
      very interesting idea, I was looking at this issue before thinking something similar to the ways that ships have bars of iron fixed to them so that the bars decay before the hull. Its not an apple or apples comparison but the end goal is the same, save the ship/crew by sacrificing a small part
      • by cellocgw (617879)

        I was looking at this issue before thinking something similar to the ways that ships have bars of iron fixed to them so that the bars decay before the hull. Its not an apple or apples comparison but the end goal is the same, save the ship/crew by sacrificing a small part

        So you're saying we should wrap the spaceship in a layer of crew members to save the remaining crew from radiation? Maybe that explains the Reavers' actual reasons for their ship accoutrements.

        • by ganjadude (952775)
          depends... who are we using as the shield?? can we start with the politicians and lawyers??? in that case yes... yes i am
  • While I'm sure that this will this is quite an accomplishment, this doesn't seem to be a superconductor world record, just a world record that involved a superconductor. A world record for a superconductor would be one with unprecedented stability or superconductivity closer to room temperature than ever before.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    3 tonnes / 100 times as strong as a typical fridge magnet.

    Maybe fridge magnets are going downhill, but I don't remember ever possessing one I could hang 30kg off.

  • a typical fridge magnet is about 0.005 Tesla

    Neodymium–iron–boron magnets are about 1.2 Tesla

    • by Pontiac (135778)

      16 T – magnetic field strength required to levitate a frog

      • by QilessQi (2044624)

        From now on I demand that all /. articles describe a magnetic force in units which express the number of frogs that it can levitate.

  • How did they power down that experiment? If they let the temperature rise until it drops out of superconductivity, it'd explode. Or did they just load magnetic field until it burst and chalked up the maximum as a new record? That's almost enough to make magnetic munitions - shells that explode on impact and also pack an EMP wallop.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Directed energy weapons!

      On second thought, a directed "jet" of magnetically propelled metal is horrifying.

      Captcha: Hellfire

    • by Anonymous Coward

      How did they power down that experiment? If they let the temperature rise until it drops out of superconductivity, it'd explode. Or did they just load magnetic field until it burst and chalked up the maximum as a new record? That's almost enough to make magnetic munitions - shells that explode on impact and also pack an EMP wallop.

      You can read what they actually did in the science article. Slashdot didn't link it, but there is a link in the first linked article. They did warm the samples to watch how the field changed and at higher fields the samples "cracked".

  • Boron is B, Barium is Ba...

    • by necro81 (917438)

      gadolinium barium copper oxide (GdBCO) superconductor

      Boron is B, Barium is Ba...

      Worse, the mistake showed up in the press release from Cambridge. I guess their editors are about as good at Slashdot's!

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You will find that in the field these materials are referred to as "YBCO, GdBCO etc etc" with only the rare earth as the full element. This is not wrong. HAve a look at the original paper which is freely available. http://iopscience.iop.org/0953-2048/27/8/082001 [iop.org]

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Nope. It's common in superconductor that when abbreviating to use ??BCO.

      SO, it's not Cambridge being as bad a slashdot editors, it's more like a slashdot reader being like a slashdot reading and posting shit they know nothing about to support the grandiose complex.

  • Electromagnitism is usually considered the best understood of the four forces but the lack of real progress in room temperature superconducting suggests we have a way to go to understanding even that. It's plausible its not possible but if we really understand EM then the mathematics for its impossibility should exist.
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    If you want to express force in conceptually simple terms, you should convert it to elephant pulls. Or Schwartzneggers.

    • no, long ton and short ton (what is meant in common speech) are units of force. in the UK (long) 2240 avoirdupois pounds, in the USA(short) 2000.

      Metric ton is unit of mass

    • by Greyfox (87712)
      When it comes to measuring magnetic field strength, I only understand the numbers of bones it can crush in an average youtube video. Given that this unit of measure has not yet been named, I propose the "Tesla," just to provide a maximum amount of confusion.
  • The same power as 17 Teslas in a golf ball, I wonder what range you get out of one of those.

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