A new process to radically enhance next-generation magnesium diboride (MgB2) superconducting wire materials, which is the essence of diagnostic medical devices such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been developed by a Korean research team.
Korea Basic Science Institute announced on August 13 that the research team of Dr. Choi Sae-yong and Kim Sung-joon at Busan Center, through international joint research with a research team led by Professor Kim Jung-ho at the University of Wollongong, developed a new process to greatly enhance the electric, mechanic, and thermal stability of superconducting wire materials by adding carbon nanotubes to MgB2.
The joint research team succeeded in developing next-generation MgB2 superconducting wire materials through combining MgB2 feedstock power with carbon nanotubes, instead of carbon materials previously used to improve the mechanical and thermal characteristics of the superconducting wire materials.
The next-generation MgB2 superconducting wire materials developed this time are immediately applicable to superconducting appliances including MRIs, and are effective in maximizing energy saving efficiency, as superconducting activities appear only at the low temperatures creating using a cooling system.
Especially these days, the supply of liquid helium, which is primarily used as a refrigerant for superconducting devices such as MRIs, is very volatile. Accordingly, multinational companies leading the medical image equipment market are considering applying MgB2 superconducting wire materials to manufacuring MRIs, which makes this research result very significant.
Dr. Choi Sae-yong said, “It means a lot to find the possibility to develop next generation MgB2 superconducting wire materials with enhanced electrical, mechanical, and thermal performance through the simple process of adding carbon nanotubes. With follow-up research, we expect to figure out how to apply this newly discovered superconducting wire material to 1.5T level MRIs, which is operated at under 15K operating temperature through a cooling system without a liquid refrigerant.”
This research result was published at Scripta Materialia online, the most prestigious magazine in metal materials.