Florida university researchers test groundbreaking new magnet design

November 14th, 2007 - 8:13 am ICT by admin  
Once the magnet ‘Split Florida Helix’ becomes operational in 2010, it will allow researchers to direct and scatter laser light at a sample not only at the centre of the magnet, but also from four ports on its sides, while still reaching fields above 25 tesla.

It will enable scientists to expand the scope of their experimental approach, learning more about the intrinsic properties of materials by shining light on crystals from angles not previously available in such high magnetic fields.

In materials research, scientists look at which kinds of light are absorbed or reflected at different crystal angles, giving them insight into the fundamental electronic structure of matter.

The new design represents a significant accomplishment for the magnet lab’s engineering staff, an NHMFL release said, adding that high magnetic fields exert tremendous forces inside the magnet, and those forces are directed at the small space in the middle… that’s where Mag Lab engineers cut big holes in it.

“You have enough to worry about with traditional magnets, and then you try to cut huge holes from all four sides from which you can access the magnet,” said lab engineer Jack Toth, who is spearheading the project. “Basically, near the midplane, more than half of the magnet structure is cut away for the access ports, and it’s still supposed to work and make high magnetic fields.”

Magnet engineers worldwide have been trying to solve the problem of creating a magnet with side access at the midsection, but they have met with little success in higher fields.

But Toth and his team achieved what others had been trying to. Instead of fashioning a tiny pinhole to create as little disruption as possible, as other labs have tried, they created a design with four big elliptical ports crossing right through the midsection of the magnet. The ports open 50 percent of the total space available for experiments, a capability the laboratory’s visiting scientists have long desired.

“It’s different from any traditional magnet that we’ve ever built before, and even the fabrication of our new parts was very challenging,” Toth said. (ANI)

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