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CERN Magnet Group produces record-breaking magnetic field

The CERN magnet group has set a world record with its racetrack test magnet, which has produced a 16.2Tesla (16.2T) peak field – nearly twice that produced by the current LHC dipoles and the highest ever for a dipole magnet of this configuration.

The Racetrack Model Coil (RMC) is one of several demonstration test magnets being built by the group to understand and develop new technologies that are vital for future accelerators.

These RMC magnets are shorter: 1 to 2m in length, compared to the 5 to 7m ones needed for the High-Luminosity Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

Juan Carlos Perez, an engineer at CERN and the project leader for the RMC, said: “The present LHC dipoles have a nominal field of 8.3T and we are designing accelerators which need magnets to produce a field of around 16T – almost twice as much.”

High-field magnets are crucial to building higher energy particle accelerators. High magnetic fields are needed to steer a beam in its orbit – in the case of dipoles - or to squeeze the beams before they collide within the experiments, which is the case for high-gradient quadrupoles.

The LHC uses niobium-titanium superconducting magnets to both bend and focus proton beams as they race around the LHC. But the RMC uses a different superconducting material, niobium-tin, which can reach much higher magnetic fields, despite its brittle nature.

The world record is a step forward in the demonstration of the technology for the High-Luminosity LHC project, and a major milestone for the Future Circular Collider design study.

"It is an excellent result, although we should not forget that this is a relatively small magnet, a technology demonstrator with no bore through the centre for the beam,” says Luca Bottura, head of CERN’s Magnet Group. “There is still a way to go before 16T magnets can be used in an accelerator."

Tom Austin-Morgan

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