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World's strongest magnet unveiled

July 13, 2011 at 4:41 PM   |   Comments

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., July 13 (UPI) -- The world's most powerful magnet with the potential to revolutionize scientific research in a variety of fields has made its debut in Florida, researchers say.

The custom-built, $2.5 million "split magnet" system at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University is operating at a world-record 25 tesla, an FSU release said Wednesday.

"Tesla," named for early 20th-century inventor and engineer Nikola Tesla, is a measurement of the strength of a magnetic field.

The previous record for this type of magnet was 17.5 tesla set in France in 1991.

In addition to being 43 percent more powerful, the new magnet has 1,500 times as much space at its center, allowing room for more flexible, varied experiments, FSU researchers said.

Scientists use high magnetic fields to probe the unusual properties of materials under extreme conditions of heat and pressure.

Unique phenomena arise at especially high magnetic fields, when certain atoms or molecules become more easily observable, for example, or exhibit properties that are difficult to observe under less extreme conditions, the researchers said.

"The Mag Lab has developed numerous world-record magnets; however, the split magnet makes the largest single step forward in technology over the past 20 years," said Mark Bird, director of the laboratory's Magnet Science and Technology division.

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