Niobium Titanium Superconductive Wire


Concepts Shown:



Various sample of nibium titanium wire, close up pictures on the structure within the wire. Wire obtained from: Inter Magnetics General: (508) 456-5456 Cost: less than $52


Setup: The only setup required is obtaining the wire and high resolution photographs of the wire.


  1. Pass around the wire
  2. Show photos and talk about structure
  3. Talk about basic superconduction principles (see Meisner effect)
  4. Talk about future superconductive applications

Note: This show and tell would be a good thing to show along with the Meisner Effect demonstration.

The most basic principle of superconduction is that it allows the continued passage of a steady current without a potential difference to drive it. In laymen's terms, this means that there is no resistance in the wire, and no power is lost when you send a signal through it. Thus the implications of a superconductive wire are phenomenal. You could make super efficient motors, send electronic signals around the world with little power and very little loss of signal. The major obstacle is what is called the critical temperature or Tc. This concept is also explained in the meisner effect demonstration. But basically a material can only be a superconductor below its Tc. The Tc for Nb-Ti is approximately 10 degrees kelvin making it workable only at liquid Helium temperatures. This is where the problems occur in terms of cost. Liquid Helium costs more than $10/gallon. However, new advances have occurred in the superconduction of ceramic materials that can operate at or above 80 degrees Kelvin making them workable with liquid nitrogen which costs less than $1 a gallon.

Multifilament Nb-Ti was developed in the late 1960's for high-field magnet windings. The wire is constructed out of 42 micrometer diameter filaments in a very low resistivity copper matrix. Nb-Ti alloy rods are inserted into drilled out channels of this high purity copper billet. Extrusion and cold drawing processes are used to reduce the diameter to that suitable for winding. [eq].


Tyler vanHouwelingen

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