Creating The Strongest Controllable Magnetic Field

Researchers in Japan have used electromagnetic flux compression to create a controllable 1,200 tesla magnetic field.

AsianScientist (Oct. 5, 2018) – Physicists from the Institute for Solid State Physics at the University of Tokyo, Japan, have generated the strongest controllable magnetic field. Their findings are published in Review of Scientific Instruments.

Magnetic fields are everywhere. From particle smashers to the humble compass, our capacity to understand and control these fields crafted much of the modern world. The ability to create stronger magnetic fields could advance many areas of science and engineering.

In the present study, researchers led by Professor Shojiro Takeyama created a large device in a purpose-built lab capable of producing the strongest controllable magnetic field ever, at 1,200 teslas (the unit of magnetic field strength). Although a stronger magnetic field has been created in the past—physicists in Russia produced a field of 2,800 teslas—that field could not be controlled and literally blew up laboratory equipment.

Lasers can also create powerful magnetic fields, but in experiments they only last a matter of nanoseconds. The magnetic field created by Takeyama’s team using electromagnetic flux compression lasts thousands of times longer, around 100 microseconds, about one-thousandth of the time it takes to blink. While it is possible to create longer-lasting fields, the strength of those fields lie within the range of only hundreds of teslas.

“With magnetic fields above 1,000 Teslas, you open up some interesting possibilities,” said Takeyama. “You can observe the motion of electrons outside the material environments they are normally within. So we can study them in a whole new light and explore new kinds of electronic devices. This research could also be useful to those working on fusion power generation.”

He added that one way to produce fusion power is to confine plasma—a sea of charged particles—in a large ring called a tokamak to extract energy from it.

“This requires a strong magnetic field in the order of thousands of teslas for a duration of several microseconds, [conditions that are] tantalizingly similar to what our device can produce,” said Takeyama.

The article can be found at: Nakamura et al. (2018) Record Indoor Magnetic Field of 1200 T Generated by Electromagnetic Flux-compression.


Source: University of Tokyo.
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