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Story 046 – 1990 – Products

Lowest temperatures for highest electrical currents

Wieland supplies input material for innovative superconductors

Cryogenic temperature superconductors, such as those used in magnetic resonance tomographs, are marvels of process technology because of their filigree precision. Wieland produces the required semi-finished products of the highest quality for a leading manufacturer.

Superconductors, unlike conventional copper cables, can transport electrical current practically without resistance and in 100 times greater quantities - even over long distances. This is made possible by temperatures of minus 270 degrees Celsius, close to absolute zero. Among other things, superconductors are used in magnetic resonance tomographs to generate the extremely strong magnetic fields that exceed the earth's natural magnetic field by a factor of 50,000. But low-temperature superconductors are also used in highly sensitive analytical equipment in materials research and food testing, in the CERN particle accelerator or the ITER fusion reactor.

Bruker EAS in Hanau is one of the world's leading manufacturers of superconductors and purchases the complete range of required input material from Wieland: hollow copper sections which are equipped with niobium-titanium or niobium-tin rods; copper cladding tubes in which the equipped sections are stacked to form a billet which is extruded at Wieland and then drawn to thin dimensions at the customer's premises. A process which is repeated several times until the wires are less than one millimetre in diameter but each of them contains up to 100,000 niobium filaments, each of which is many times thinner than a human hair. For protection, the superconducting wires are finally soldered into a copper U-profile, the wire-in-channel (WIC), which has also been purchased from Wieland for many years.

Bruker EAS can rely not only on the completeness of the product range with regard to the required input materials or manufacturing services, but also on the consistently impeccable quality of the semi-finished products, which is indispensable in view of the enormous precision requirements for the superconductors, some of which are several kilometres long.

 

Employee with copper cladding tubes

Complex procedure: In copper cladding tubes, profiles equipped with niobium-titanium or niobium-tin rods are stacked into billets and then extruded.

Later, the billets are drawn until the wires of the superconductors have the desired small diameter.

Superconductors

Outwardly rather inconspicuous, the superconductors are created in countless complex process steps and offer fantastic possibilities.