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A Hose That Can Transport Magnetic Fields Across Any Distance

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In a technique similar to how optical fibre transports light through a tube, researchers from Spain have developed a material that efficiently guides and transports a magnetic field from one location to the other. The technology will likely be used to fuel the quantum computers of tomorrow.

Above: An Artistic impression of how the field of magnetic sources (e.g. magnetic dipoles) could be routed and used to magnetically connect it to other sources through a hose network. Credit: Navau et al.

The magnetic hose, which was developed by an international team of scientists led by researchers from the Department of Physics of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, uses a surprisingly simple design — which is ironic given just how complicated the theoretical calculations were to test it.


It consists of a ferromagnetic cylinder covered by a superconductor material. The 14-centimeter prototype was able to transport a magnetic field from one extreme to the other with an efficiency rate of 400% compared to other methods used to transport these fields.


The shaded region represents an "infinite slab of ideal material" along the width. Credit: Navau et al.


The device can be implemented at any scale — including the nanoscale. Because the magnetic hose can individually control quantum systems, it could be used to solve some of the current technological problems existing in quantum computing.

More from the UAB press release:

The device designed by the researchers can be implemented at any scale, even at nanometre scale. Thus, a magnetic nanohose capable of individually controlling quantum systems could help to solve some of the current technological problems existing in quantum computing.

Magnetism is a basic element of today's technology, such as in energy generating processes and in the storage of information in computers. And one of the essential processes in these technologies is the conduct and transfer of magnetic fields, either with the use of large transformers or in logic nanodevices.

Light, formed by magnetic and electric field waves, can be very effectively conducted through optical fibres. Nevertheless, "until now there was nothing similar with which to guide and transport static magnetic fields," explains Àlvar Sánchez, ICREA Academia and leader of the research. "To guide these fields in electronic circuits or in current transformers, ferromagnetic materials such as iron alloys are used, but their intensity quickly drops with the distance and their application is limited."


Read the entire scientific study here.