After the discovery of electromagnets in the 1800s, the world’s understanding and use of magnets started to evolve. However, the next big game changer didn’t occur until 1911 when Kamerlingh Onnes discovered superconductivity. This refers to the zero electrical resistance and expulsion of magnetic fields in some materials (superconductors) at very low absolute temperatures.

Superconductors conduct electricity with “perfect” efficiency. Even commercially available superconducting magnets can produce a stable field up to 23 Tesla. To put that in perspective, that is over 2,000 times stronger than the average refrigerator magnet. The invention of low critical temperature superconductor (LTS) magnet technology in combination with advancements in high-temperature superconducting materials has exponentially increased the power of magnets today. 

Introduction of a New Superconductor 

In late 2019, after intense engineering efforts over the last decade, the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory’s 32 T all-superconducting magnet will become available, helping scientists study nuclear magnetic resonance, electron magnetic resonance, molecular solids, and quantum oscillation studies of complex metals. High-performing superconducting magnets are also an important element of technology used in particle accelerators and colliders, and fusion devices.

Using the New Superconductor

Typically, a superconducting magnet of greater than or equal to 25 T has an outer magnet made of LTS materials and an insert made of HTS materials. The outsert section of the new superconducting magnet has three coils of niobium-tin (Nb3Sn) and two coils of niobium-titanium (NbTi) that use Bruker-Oxford Superconducting Technology. LTS-only magnets can’t produce a field above 21 T, which is why the dual-component design is so necessary.

Managing Energy

Both the insert and outsert of the super-magnet must be kept in a liquid helium bath at 4.2K. Any additional energy would be enough to raise the temperature above the point where the coils become resistive, and the magnet undergoes a “quench” the transition from superconducting to resistive behavior.

Use Apex Magnets Today

With ongoing advancements in electromagnetic and superconducting technology, it’s obvious we have come a long way since the discovery of magnetite and rare earth minerals. However,  neodymium and samarium-cobalt magnets will never outgrow their usefulness. That’s why we continue to offer rare earth magnets with the strength and durability to get the job done, regardless of industry. If you would like to search for a specific size, shape, pull force, or magnetic material, our new search bar makes it simple.