Monday, July 28, 2014

HL-LHC: 10-tesla shorter magnets are ready

The CERN website printed a cute engineering story about the Fermilab's success this spring:
Next-generation magnets: Small, but powerful
This fall, the Fermilab has shown a prototype of 10.4 tesla magnets.

The high-luminosity (=more collisions per second) large hadron collider (HL-LHC) will need some new collimators etc. and in order to squeeze them over there, one will need magnets that are both shorter and stronger.

The LHC has lots of 14-meter-long magnets that are 8 tesla strong. These Fermilab folks have presented a 2-meter prototype of a 11-meter-long magnet that has 10.4 tesla (the magnetic field is the same for the prototype).

They have replaced niobium-titanium materials by niobium-tin. I guess that it must be cheaper, too. If you replace titanium by tin, you save at least... taium. :-)

The intensity of these magnets isn't in the science-fiction category but it is cute. The magnets on your fridge have fields between 0.05 and 0.1 tesla. So the new Fermilab magnets are more than 100 times stronger than the strongest magnet on your fridge. Such a much stronger fridge magnet would be cool for various magic tricks. ;-)

It seems that the HL-LHC project depends on the speculation that before 2020, similar magnets will cross the 11-tesla barrier. Based on simple extrapolations, this advance seems likely. But still, I feel it is not quite guaranteed to be possible – at least in the real world, there is a threat that the creators of these magnets get stuck.

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