Quest Into an Unknown World
For a story, today representing your editorial team, I'm visiting the Tohoku University High Field Laboratory for Superconducting Materials. High field? Superconducting? What exactly are they researching there?
The laboratory is on the university's Katahira Campus surrounded by lush trees, and building with a historic atmosphere.
Inside, a model of the laboratory's hybrid magnet comes into view first. Beside it is a set instructions full of unfamiliar words, a bit intimidating.
Welcoming me were Professor Satoshi Awaji, Assistant Professor Kohki Takahashi, Assistant Professor Tatsunori Okada and grad student Ryo Otsubo. They showed me around the laboratory.
Awaji: "This is one of the few open research facilities in the world, and the only one in Japan, equipped with more than 15 high-Tc based field magnets .... Among many experiments, the researchers here measure changes in the electrical resistance of a given material when it is cooled and placed in a magnetic field."
In the picture is a 25-tesla cryogen-free superconducting magnet, which can produce fields up to roughly 500,000 times the force of geomagnetism. (The tesla is a unit of magnetic force; 0.5 gauss = 0.05 millitesla.)
A Kito crane helps place the container of the material to be measured and liquid helium through a 52mm port into the magnetic field.
Awaji: "The application of magnetic force carries potential for us to discover previously unknown physical phenomena. I have no doubt that in the future we will contribute to the technological progress of products and materials in many fields."
This is truly a quest into an unknown world.