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German Lab Generates the Strongest Magnetic Field Ever Created

• Clay Dillow via

Call it another victory for German design. Researchers in Dresden have set a new world record for the strongest magnetic field ever manufactured at the High Magnetic Field Laboratory Dresden (HZDR). Using a two-layer, 440-pound copper coil the size of a water bucket, they managed to coax 91.4 teslas from their creation for just a few milliseconds, surpassing the previous record of 89 teslas.

That’s a lot of teslas. Your standard high-power copper coil would be torn apart at something like 25 teslas, the researchers say. That’s because the magnetic field and the electric current that creates it work at cross purposes at higher energies. The current running through the coil generates the magnetic field, but the magnetic field pushes back against the electrons flowing through the coil. The stronger the current, the more the magnetic field pushes back, and once the current crosses a certain threshold the magnet will quite literally tear itself apart.

But we need bigger, badder magnets. The higher and more precise magnetic fields we can produce in the lab, the better we can test and characterize the properties of the materials we create, things like superconductors that shuttle electrons around with zero resistance. In order to make their magnet withstand the pressures of 90-plus teslas, the HZDR team wrapped the coil in a specially fabricated corset made of high-tensile fibers usually used in body armor.

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