This Golf Ball-Sized Magnet Creates Three Metric Tons of Force

This little superconducting magnet may look serene, but it in fact it's a record breaker, capable of creating three metric tons of force.

The magnet beats a record that has stood for over ten years, generating a magnetic field of 17.6 Tesla—that's more than a typical MRI machine, or about 3,000 times more than a refrigerator magnet—beating the previous best by 0.4 Tesla. The results are published in the journal Superconductor Science and Technology.

This new magnet was created by growing gadolinium barium copper oxide (GdBCO), very carefully and slowly, into a single grain that measured an inch in diameter. Then, the sample was reinforced before being pumped with current to generate the magnetic field; without that reinforcement, the sample could have torn itself apart.

While the record itself is exciting, the technique used to grow the large crystal of GdBCO, known as melt processing, is apparently surprisingly simple. In turn, that means that high performance superconducting magnets might not be as hard to manufacture as we expected—and super-efficient energy recovery systems and levitating trains might not be as exclusive as we thought. [Cambridge University via Engadget]