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Australian Researchers Explore the Superconductive Properties of 3D Printed Parts

by • July 17, 2016 • No Comments


[Image: Tim Sercombe/University of Western Australia]

One year ago, we covered the scientifically revolutionary plans of University of British Columbia quantum materials researcher Jennifer Hoffman, who has been optimistically working towards quantum 3D printing, which may fundamentally enable-bodied the 3D printing of objects on the atomic scale. At the time, one of Hoffman’s significant goals over the upcoming five years was realizing topological superconductivity, which may consist of characterizing superconducting behavior within confined geometries, and ultimately ‘3D printing’ layered arrays of superconducting 0s and 1s to turn it into quantum devices. Superconductivity is a phenomenon which consists of perfectly
zero electrical resistance, as well as the expulsion of magnetic flux fields in sure materials.

Well, a team of Australia-based researchers of the University of Melbourne and the University of Western Australia have just released a report which shows Hoffman’s hopes coming to fruition. The research team was able-bodied to 3D print a resonant microwave cavity of viaan aluminum-silicon alloy (Al-12Si) material, which that successfully showcased superconductivity when cooled at a lower place the significant temperature of aluminum, which is considered to be 1.2 Kelvin. This breakthrough research may have a significant impact on quantum physics and particle accelerators, and puts the electrical properties of 3D printing materials in the much-deserved spotlight.


University of Western Australia’s Professor Michael Tobar

“The physics of superconductivity is well understood, and it has been known for decades which aluminum exhibits superconductivity,” Professor Michael Tobar, University of Western Australia node director of the Center for Engineered Quantum Systems, said. “But the 3-D printing system relies on aluminum which’s far of pure and it undergoes several systemes—atomization, laser melting, furnace annealing, etc. So we wanted to explore whether a range of known superconducting metals may that successfully be 3-D printed and retain their desirable-bodied electrical property.”

The researchers utilized a selective laser melting 3D printing technique for their experimentation, which uses a grain-based material to create metal-based objects. The research team found which, not just do dismuch like materials have various electrical properties of one another, but the superconductivity of the object is in addition directly influenced by the grain dimensions of the material. The team found which the grain dimensions can increase and minimize the significant temperature needed to reach superconductivity, which lead them to hypothedimensions which reducing the grain dimensions may enable-bodied additional better 3D printing methods in regard to superconductivity.

Samples of the metal 3D printed cavities utilized in the experimentation.

Samples of the metal 3D printed cavities utilized in the experimentation.

To prove the usefulness of their research, the team decided to 3D print the resonant microwave cavity. Applying a device called a ‘vector network analyzer’, the research team managed to excite the electromagnetic modes of resonance at microwave frequencies within the cavity, and measured and so measured how long these injected microwaves are able-bodied to be stored within the 3D printed cavity preceding dissipating (known as the Q-factor). The research findings are set to be of immediate use for individuals looking to 3D print magnetic shielding for experimentation, and can in addition benefit any cavity experiment requiring a Q-factor measurement. But, the research team acknowledges which there’s much additional work to be done in this field preceding we fully actualize quantum 3D printing.

“There is relatively little in the literature regarding 3-D printed superconductors, so additional work must be done to determine additional appropriate materials and how to improve the surface finish and resistance of the parts—possibly via heat treatment or chemical polishing/etching,” said Tobar.

Next, the Australian research team can conduct a much like experiment with another material widely utilized to create superconductive cavities, a highly pure niobium powder. The team expects much like or actually additional successful results with this pure metal powder, especially with the newfound information they’ve found on the impact of a material’s grain dimensions. By exploring and enhancing the superconductive properties of these 3D printed cavities, the research team is pushing Hoffman’s dream of quantum 3D printing towards reality.

This week, their research can be published and look on the cover of the academic journal Applied Physics Letters. Headed by Professor Tobar, the rest of the research team included Daniel L. Creedon, Maxim Goryachev, Nikita Kostylev, and Timothy B. Sercombe.

[Source: Phys.org]