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 Superconductivity Technology Center

HTS Materials Development

(Also see HTS Materials Processing)

The fundamental requirement for electrical power applications is a strong and flexible high-temperature superconducting wire capable of carrying large currents in magnetic fields. The amount of current a wire can carry before losing its superconductivity due to heating or magnetic fields is called the critical current IC. The critical current density, JC, which is just IC divided by the cross-sectional area of the superconductor, is another measure of current-carrying capability. For optimum performance of a superconducting wire, both IC and JC should be maximized.

The development of HTS technology depends on a strong program of HTS wire development. At Los Alamos this has evolved into two parallel efforts. The first wire making technique to yield good HTS wire was the oxide-powder-in-tube method (OPIT), which relies on industrial techniques of drawing and rolling. In this process silver tubes are loaded with HTS materials (BSCCO) and then processed by a complex combination of drawing, rolling, and heating. The final wire is a core of HTS surrounded by silver alloy. These wires are being made into coils to be used in transformers, motors, and current controllers.

The Los Alamos effort in OPIT has been in tape processing studies using novel thermal treatments and microstructural characterization on these BSCCO systems. These activities are described on the oxide powder page.

 Superconductivity Technology Center - IBAD deposition schematic

The other wire development effort is in the so-called coated-conductors or second-generation HTS wires. These wires are based upon a different family of HTS compounds, namely the YBCO materials. These compounds have superior capabilities in high magnetic fields compared to BSCCO wires. However, the drawing and rolling technique for producing BSCCO wires does not work well for YBCO wires and so new techniques have been developed for producing good YBCO wire. Many of these techniques were developed at Los Alamos. The fundamentals of this process, namely the pulsed laser deposition (PLD) and ion beam assisted deposition (IBAD) are described on the coated conductor page.

Contact
Vladimir Matias
vlado@lanl.gov

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