Superconductor Wire Manufacturing facility

It is very likely that our group is the only academic institution world-wide with complete facilities for thin film superconductor wire manufacturing. A pilot-scale superconductor metal organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) tool (Figure 1) that is identical to that used in industry is available in our Energy Research Park facility. This system is being used for conducting manufacturing research and includes features such as a meter-long deposition zone, dual high capacity evaporators, dual high capacity pumping system, in-line X-ray Diffraction (Figure 1) for real-time information on crystallographic orientation of superconductor film growth and in-line vision system for real-time detection and tagging of defects in the film.

Figure 1. (Left) Pilot-scale MOCVD tool for superconductor wire manufacturing at our facility (Right) In-line X-ray Diffraction system in the MOCVD manufacturing tool for real-time quality control

The pilot MOCVD manufacturing tool is being upgraded in a new program funded by the DOE-Advanced Manufacturing Office with Advanced MOCVD features that was developed in a laboratory MOCVD tool. The Advanced MOCVD tool consists of as a novel reactor design that includes direct tape heating, direct temperature monitoring, laminar flow channel and plasma activation. The novel features provide excellent stability of film growth temperature, precursor composition as well as high precursor-to-film conversion efficiency. Record-high performance levels have been demonstrated using the Advanced MOCVD tool and this technology is being scaled up to manufacturing in the modified pilot MOCVD manufacturing tool. This is an excellent example of transitioning laboratory-scale research demonstrations to manufacturing and our record in securing a multi-million dollar project to execute this scale up. A photograph of the Advanced MOCVD tool is shown in Figure 2. This tool was completely designed and built by our group members.

A reel-to-reel system for electropolishing of substrates and electroplating system of copper stabilizer is available in our facility (Figure 3). This system was obtained as a gift from Los Alamos National Laboratory and completely revamped by our group into its present state. The reel-to-reel electroplating system is utilized to deposit copper stabilizer on long superconductor tapes. It can be used for electroplating of other materials as well.

Figure 3. Reel-to-reel electropolishing and electroplating system at our facility

A reel-to-reel system for magnetron sputtering of silver overlayer on superconductor wires are available at our facility (Figure 4). This system can be used for magnetron sputtering of other materials as well, on a manufacturing scale. Our group members designed and built this system in house. UH and its industrial partner AMPeers designed, constructed and commissioned a reel-to-reel wire winding system in our facility for spiral winding of superconductor tapes to fabricate round, ultra-small diameter wires (Figure 4). This technology of converting a flat tape to a round wire was developed by our group members. A startup company, AMPeers created by the Prof. Selva, which then secured Phase I and Phase II SBIR funding to scale up this technology to manufacturing at our facility in collaboration with UH researchers. The $1M Phase II SBIR program is a good example of our pursuing many effective pathways to transition UH technology to manufacturing.

Figure 4. (Left) Reel-to-reel system for magnetron sputtering of silver (Right) Reel-to-reel wire winding equipment for fabricating round, ultra-small diameter superconductor wire. Both equipment are present in our facility.

In addition to manufacturing tools for processing, our group members also have designed, constructed and commissioned novel reel-to-reel quality assurance tools for verification of quality of long superconductor wires. One such tool is a reel-to-reel in-field critical current measurement system (Figure 5) where critical current of long superconductor tapes is measured in a magnetic field of 5 Tesla. This equipment provides unique performance data that is important for verification of uniformity of quality of superconductor tapes in many applications but has not been available even in industry. Using know-how that was developed in our research laboratories, we established this innovative tool to qualify long tapes that are produced in our manufacturing research as well as those made in industry. A second quality assurance tool designed, built and commissioned by our group members is a reel-to-reel Scanning Hall Probe Microscope (SHPM) (Figure 5). This equipment consists of a high speed, high resolution driver for a Hall probe that maps the magnetic field and in turn the critical current of the tape. A spatial resolution of 100 ┬Ám is achievable even at a linear tape speed of 30 m/h. This tool too is being used for high-resolution critical current mapping of long tapes produced in our manufacturing research as well as those manufactured by industry. We have secured a sponsored research program with a superconductor wire manufacturer to use the SHPM tool to provide critical feedback to their manufacturing operations.

Figure 5. (Left) Reel-to-reel in-field critical current measurement system for long superconductor tapes (Right) Reel-to-reel Scanning Hall Probe Microscope for continuous critical current mapping of long superconductor tapes. Both equipment are located in our facility