Scientists have demonstrated a simple method for improving the current densities of superconducting coated conductors in magnetic field environments. The discovery has the potential to increase the already impressive carrying capacity of superconducting wires and tapes by as much as 200 to 500% in motors and generators, where high magnetic fields diminish current densities.
In research reported in the journal Nature Materials, University of Cambridge scientist Judith Macmanus-Driscoll and her Los Alamos colleagues discovered that when the compound barium zirconate is deposited simultaneously with the yttrium-barium-copper-oxide superconductor it naturally forms nanoscale particles embedded in superconductor films. The result is a two to five fold increase in the current densities of coated conductors in high magnetic fields operating at liquid nitrogen temperatures.
Superconducting wires and tapes carry hundreds of times more electrical current than conventional copper wires with little or no electrical resistance. Much of the excitement caused by this discovery is due to the fact that the process can be easily and economically incorporated into commercial processing of superconductors.
(For more on this story, see the September issue of Electrical Review.)