Assistant Professor David Young and Professors Phil
Adams and Roy Goodrich have found a way to synthesize
a layer of superconductor directly onto tiny carbon
fibers that are five times smaller than a human hair,
and the results could lead to advances in space travel
and his colleagues in the Department of Physics and
Astronomy have attracted attention and funding from
the Army Space and Missile Defense Command's Education
and Employment for Technology Excellence in Aviation,
Missiles and Space, or EETEAMS. Through this program,
which provides research grants to colleges and universities,
the LSU physicists will receive almost $200,000 during
the next 12 months.
to Young, their research attracted the program's attention
because the wires can be wound into a coil to create
a large magnetic field.
we can make a new magnet that does the same job as
a conventional one, they are very interested,"
he said. "In space travel, magnets could be used
to confine plasma for power generation. Magnets can
also be used to expel plasma as a means of propulsion,
so the theory is that they could be used to 'drive'
explained that the magnets made out of the tiny wire
are mostly carbon, and thus very lightweight and easy
to get into orbit, while heavier items – such as normal
high-power magnets – are much more expensive to send
said that the superconductivity of the wires might
offer other financial benefits as well.
it is a superconductor, there is no loss of electricity,"
he said. "Therefore, once a current is flowing
in a magnet, it doesn't cost you anything to keep
superconductor, Young explained, is a material that,
when cooled below some characteristic temperature,
can transport an electric current without any loss
of energy. In other words, he says, it has no electrical
said that he and his colleagues have succeeded in
synthesizing a layer of superconductor on a wire made
of a magnesium carbon nickel compound. However, this
wire does not function at an ideal temperature for
deep space applications. The next step, he said, is
to synthesize a wire using a magnesium boron compound
that will function at the appropriate temperatures.
they succeed, Young said that there will likely be
more funding to follow and they will then attempt
to build a prototype magnet. Such a prototype would
not only be of interest to the Army, he said, but
possibly NASA and other agencies involved in space
research and exploration.
more information, contact Young at email@example.com.
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