Researchers at North Carolina State University have been working hard to find the relationship between impurities and superconducting materials. Their research focuses on how the size of these impurities affects superconducting materials, and whether the effects are beneficial or harmful.
A superconducting material is a material that can sustain electricity without losing any energy due to leakage. These materials are commonly used in the medical industry through MRI technology and are expected to play a significant role in achieving power technology.
Barium calcium copper oxide (Bi2212) is one of the representatives of superconducting materials and is considered to be the only alloy that can be coiled at very high temperatures. Therefore, it is desirable to use it for everything belonging to a high-energy physical framework, including transformers, power transmission lines, electric motors, and etc. It is also useful in areas that require large magnetic fields, such as magnetic applications such as magnetic resonance imaging and electromagnets.
For Bi2212 to be used for any of these applications, the material is heated to about 900 degrees Celsius after being fabricated into a multifilamentary wire containing 500 to 1000 Bi2212 filaments encased in silver. This process however, creates impurities that largely comprise of porous particles and Bi2201 in the material.
Dr. Justin Schwartz, author and Kobe Steel Professor and HOD of NC state’s Materials Science and Engineering says that although the porous particles are an issue, the impurities are what matter the most. These impurities are what could alter the performance of Bi2212 positively or negatively. For instance, research has shown that large-scale impurities were found to hinder superconductivity acting as obstacles to current. Researchers are hard at work to come up with a better method of processing to optimize its superconductivity.
Researches found that nanoscale impurities that range from 1.2 to 2.5 in width can improve Bi2212 performance as a superconductor. These nanoscale impurities or flaws serve as the pivot point for fixing magnetic flux in position. This pivot point acts to stabilize the magnetic vortices to avoid them from shifting causing resistivity and obstructing superconductivity in the presence of a magnetic field.
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