US lab tests record-breaking magnet

The US National High Magnetic Field Laboratory broke a world record and its own previous mark by testing a 32-tesla magnet which is 33 per cent stronger than what had previously been the strongest superconducting magnet used for research and more than 3,000 times stronger than a small refrigerator magnet.

The 32T's field strength is created with a combination of conventional, or low-temperature, superconducting magnets, and a high-temperature superconducting material called YBCO, composed of yttrium, barium, copper, and oxygen.

"The new system, and the magnets that will follow, will give scientists access to insights never before possible," physicist Laura Greene, the MagLab's chief scientist, said in a press release issued by Florida State University -where the lab is headquartered. "We expect it to break new ground in a variety of research areas. Physicists are especially excited about advances in quantum matter, which features new and technologically important ultra-thin materials, as well as exotic new states of matter in topological materials and complex magnetic materials," she added.

In detail, the magnet will allow researchers to explore how electrons interact with each other and their atomic environment. According to the release, this would also enable the development of new devices and boost the power of scientific tools such as X-rays. "This single leap is bigger than all the improvements made over the past 40 years combined," lab reps said in the statement.