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Of Interest

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Magnet family convenes in Marseille

Sabina Griffith

The ''magnet family united'' in front of the Marseille conference venue, Parc Chanot. (Click to view larger version...)
The ''magnet family united'' in front of the Marseille conference venue, Parc Chanot.
It is with obvious respect that the visitors moved through the hallways and portals of the ancient Basilica of Saint-Maximin, where organist Pierre Bardon played Bach's Toccata and Fugue on the pipes of the 250 year old organ. The mastery of the fugue has not lost its fascination. The organ concert and the subsequent banquet in the festively illuminated courtyard of the adjacent convent were the closing chord of the 22nd Magnet Technology (MT) Conference that that took place in Marseille last week.

First established in 1965, the MT is the world's largest gathering in this field. Every two years it brings together the world's foremost experts on magnet technology in order to advance various applications: from the MRI machines that allow for the non-invasive examination of the human body; to high-energy particle physics; and finally on to fusion, where "superconducting magnet technology is critical to future commercial exploitation," as ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima stated in the conference's opening speech on Monday 12 September.

935 participants, 979 submitted abstracts, 632 papers, 600 posters, 130 oral presentations ... this 22nd edition of the Magnet Technology conference broke all records. (Click to view larger version...)
935 participants, 979 submitted abstracts, 632 papers, 600 posters, 130 oral presentations ... this 22nd edition of the Magnet Technology conference broke all records.
In the year when the world celebrates the 100th anniversary of the discovery of superconductivity and the 50th anniversary of applied superconductivity, ITER—as the project that will push the boundaries of existing magnet technology in a wide variety of areas—had the honour of hosting the MT conference. And with a record number of 935 participants, 979 submitted abstracts, 632 papers, 600 posters and 130 oral presentations, this 22nd edition of the Magnet Technology conference broke all records. "I think what we're seeing here is genuine growth in the interest in magnet technology," conference Chairman Neil Mitchell stated. "This might be due to the steady climb in commercial activity for magnets which is about 20 percent per year," Mitchell added.

In his plenary talk "A century of critical temperature," the Grand Seigneur of Magnet Technology Martin Wilson gave an entertaining summary of the developments in the field over the past 100 years. In one highlight, he described the "birth hour" of applied superconductivity during the the 1987 meeting of the American Physical Society. "News had spread about the breakthrough of high-temperature superconductors and everybody wanted to hear more about this thrilling news. Lectures were given and discussed until 2:00 a.m. and there was almost no way to get into the packed rooms." This event later made it into the history books as the "Woodstock of Physics."

''I think what we're seeing here is genuine growth in the interest in magnet technology,'' commented conference Chairman Neil Mitchell. (Click to view larger version...)
''I think what we're seeing here is genuine growth in the interest in magnet technology,'' commented conference Chairman Neil Mitchell.
Fifty years later, the technology is well established, but R&D never stops; this 22nd edition of the MT conference featured papers on the development of applications using the new generation of High Temperature Superconductors. "The MT is a forum for exchange of information where, in particular, the companies working on industrialization of discoveries interact with the clients who want to use the products," explained Neil Mitchell. "It's not only new discoveries, but also improved techniques for manufacturing old technologies that comes up. The interfacing nature of the conference makes it popular."

In a special ceremony on Monday, this year's IEEE awards for continuing and significant contributions in the field of applied superconductivity were presented. This year's winners were:

  • Yukikazu Iwasa, from MIT's Francis Bitter Magnet Laboratory, for his pioneering work on techniques for making superconducting joints between NbTi and Nb3SN wires (and, more recently, MgB2 wires)

  • Alvin Tollestrup, from the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, for his efforts in leading the pioneering design, testing and commissioning of 1,000 superconducting magnets for the Tevatron at Fermi Lab

  • Bernard Turck, from the CEA in Cadarache, for the invention of the Tore Supra conductor and his major role in the commissioning of the Tore Supra superconducting magnet system which has been in operation for more than 20 years

  • Finally on Friday, 16 September, before the participants made their way back to homes in the east and the west, the stage was clear to invite all assembled to the 23nd Magnet Technology conference that will take place in 2013. "See you in Boston!"

    Follow this link to the official MT-22 website.


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