Impact: Emerging superconducting technologies providing greater efficiency

Superconducting MgB2 wires for next-generation MRI

A breakthrough made by researchers at UOW in the fabrication of wires from the superconductor magnesium diobride (MgB2) using silicon carbide nanoparticle doping has the potential to impact a number of fields, including medicine.

The landmark research by Distinguished Professor Shi Xue Dou from the Institute for Superconducting and Electronic Materials (ISEM) at the Australian Institute for Innovative Materials (AIIM), achieved a world record high critical current carrying capacity in superconducting MgB2 wires.

It is one of the most important advances in the field since superconductivity was discovered in MgB2, which has great potential for practical applications, including fault current limiters, wind turbine generators, power cables, motors, energy storage, magnetic separators and transformers.

Distinguished Professor Dou’s breakthrough has potential to impact on the next generation of MRI machines.

Using nanoparticle doped MgB2 superconductors would make the machines more powerful and smaller than current machines as they would not require liquid helium cooling, as is currently the case. This would reduce running costs and lower costs for patients.

The ongoing quality of research at ISEM in this area is underscored by their ongoing collaborative partnerships, including with HyperTech Research, a world leader in the application of MgB2 superconductive materials. 

The fabrication of silicene in Australia

Materials science researchers at UOW were the first in Australia, some of only a handful in the world, to fabricate a landmark new material called silicene.

Silicene is a two-dimensional, single atom-thick form of silicon that has a honeycomb structure – making it very strong. Its great promise is related to how electrons can streak across it at incredible speed, close to the speed of light. Propelling the electrons in silicene requires minimal energy input, which means reducing power and cooling requirements for electronic devices.

Led by Distinguished Professor Shi Xue Dou, the team at the Institute for Superconducting Energy Materials (ISEM) made silicene using a three-chamber low-temperature scanning tunnelling microscope, which allows researchers to examine and manipulate materials at the nano scale.

More recently the team have identified more of silicene’s structural information, its stability when exposed to air as well as developed methods to precisely manipulate its reactivity.

This groundbreaking work paves the way for identifying and modifying silicene so it can be integrated it into ultra-small renewable energy devices, such as solar cells, data storage hardware and advancing quantum computing.  

    Superconducting MgB2 wires
    Professor S.X. Dou
    Dr S.H. Zhou
    Dr M.S. Hossain
    Dr X. Xu
    Associate Professor J.H. Kim
    Professor X.L. Wang
    Professor A.V. Pan
    Associate Professor J. Horvat
    Professor H.K. Liu
    Fabricating silicene
    Dr Yi Du
    Dr Xun Xu
    Dr Stefan Eilers
    Dr Germanas Peleckis
    Professor Xiao Lin Wang
    Professor Shi Xue Dou