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Superconductor Technologies for Particle Accelerators


Please Note that a Letter of Intent is due Monday, December 21, 2015 5:00pm ET.


Maximum Phase I Award Amount:  $150,000

Maximum Phase II Award Amount:  $1,000,000

Accepting SBIR Phase I Applications:  YES

Accepting SBIR FastTrack Applications:  YES

Accepting STTR Phase I Applications:  YES

Accepting STTR FastTrack Applications:  YES

Superconducting materials are widely used in particle accelerators to create large continuous electric and magnetic fields for beam acceleration and manipulation. Advanced R&D is needed in support of this research in high-field superconductor, superconducting magnet, and superconducting RF technologies. This topic addresses only those superconducting magnet development technologies that support accelerators, storage rings, and charged particle beam transport systems, and only those superconducting wire technologies that support long strand lengths suitable for winding magnets without splices.

Grant applications are sought only in the following subtopics:

a. High-Field Superconducting Wire Technologies for Magnets

Grant applications are sought to develop new or improved superconducting wire for high field magnets that operate at 16 Tesla (T) field and higher. Proposals should address production scale (> 3 km continuous lengths) wire technologies at 16 to 25 T and demonstration scale (>1 km lengths) wire technologies at 25 to 50 T. Current densities should be at least 400 amperes per square millimeter of strand cross-section (often called the engineering current density) at the target field of operation and 4.2 K temperature. Tooling and handling requirements restrict wire cross-sectional area to the range 0.4 to 2.0 square millimeters, with transverse dimension not less than 0.25 mm. Vacuum requirements in accelerators and storage rings favor operating temperatures below 20 K, so high-temperature superconducting wire technologies will be evaluated only in this temperature range. Primary conductors of interest are the HTS materials Bi2Sr2CaCu2O8 (Bi-2212), and (RE)Ba2Cu3O7 (ReBCO) that are engineered for high field magnet applications; new architectures or processing methods that significantly lower the cost of Nb3Sn wire may also be of interest. Other materials may be considered if high field performance, length, and cost equivalent to these primary materials can be demonstrated. All grant applications must result in wire technology that will be acceptable for accelerator magnets, including not only the operating conditions mentioned above, but also delivery of a sufficient amount of material (1 km minimum continuous length) for winding and testing small magnets.

New or improved wire technologies must demonstrate at least one of the following criteria in comparison to present art: (1) property improvement, such as higher current density or higher operating field; (2) improved tolerance to property degradation as a function of applied strain; (3) reduced transverse dimensions of the superconducting filaments (sometimes called the effective filament diameter), in particular to less than 30 micrometers at 1 mm wire diameter, with minimal concomitant reduction of the thermal conductivity of the stabilizer or strand critical current density; (4) innovative geometry for ReBCO materials that leads to lower magnet inductance (cables) and lower losses under changing transverse magnetic fields; (5) correction of specific processing flaws (not general improvements in processing), to achieve properties in wires of more than 1 km length that are presently restricted to wire lengths of 100 m or less; (6) significant cost reduction for equal performance in all regards, especially current density and length.

Questions – Contact: Ken Marken,

b. Superconducting Magnet Technology

Grant applications are sought to develop: (1) very high field (20 T and above) dipole magnets; (2) designs and prototypes for HTS/LTS hybrid solenoid systems capable of achieving 30 to 40T axial fields and warm bores with a diameter ≥2 cm, which are of particular interest for final cooling of a muon beam prior to acceleration and injection into a collider storage ring, but could also have broader application; (3) alternative designs – to traditional "cosine theta" dipole and "cosine twotheta" quadrupole magnets – that may be more compatible with the more fragile Nb3Sn and HTS/high-field superconductors; (4) fast cycling HTS magnets capable of operation at or above 4T/s; (5) reduction in magnetization induced harmonics in HTS magnets; (6) improved magnet designs and industrial fabrication methods for magnets, such as welding and forming, that lead to lower costs; (7) quench protection in HTS magnets and HTS/LTS hybrid magnets.

Questions – Contact: Ken Marken,

c. Superconducting RF Materials & Cavities

Materials and Fabrication Technologies for SRF Cavities – Material properties, surface features, processing procedures, and cavity geometry can have significant impact on the performance of superconducting radio-frequency (SRF) accelerator cavities. Grant applications are sought to develop (1) new raw materials streams, such as those utilizing large-grain Nb ingot slices; (2) new or improved SRF cavity fabrication techniques, such as seamless and weld-free approaches; (3) SRF cavity fabrication techniques that reduce use of expensive metals such as niobium while achieving equivalent performance as bulk niobium cavities; (4) new or improved bulk processing technologies, such as mechanical or plasma polishing; (5) new or improved final surface preparation and protection technologies; (6) techniques to coat copper (or other) cavity substrates with SC thin-film materials with RF properties that meet or exceed those of bulk Nb and/or enable operation at 4 K or above.

SRF Cavities – Grant applications are sought for the development of superconducting radiofrequency cavities for acceleration of proton and ion beams, with relativistic betas ranging from 0.1 to 1.0. Frequencies of current interest include 325, 650, 1300 MHz and S-band to 4 GHz. Continuous wave (CW) cavities are of the greater interest, although pulsed cavities could also be supported. Accelerating gradients above 15 MV/m, at Q0 in excess of 2 × 1010 (CW), and above 25 MV/m at Q0 in excess of 1 × 1010 (pulsed) are desirable. Topics of interest include: (1) cavity designs; (2) cavity fabrication alternatives to electron beam welding, including for example hydroforming and automatic TIG or laser welding of cavity end groups; (3) other cavity and cryomodule cost reduction methods; (4) cw power couplers at >50kW; (5) fast tuners for microphonics control; (6) higher order mode suppressors, including extraction of HOM power via the main power coupler and with photonic band gap cavities; (7) ecologically friendly or alternative cavity surface processing methods; (8) alternatives to high pressure rinsing that would allow in-situ cleaning of cavities to control field emission; (9) high resolution tomographic x-rays of electron beam welds in cavities; (10) novel SRF cryomodule design including demonstration of conduction cooled SRF cavities.

Questions – Contact: Ken Marken,

d. Cryogenic and Refrigeration Technology Systems

Many new accelerators are based on cold (superconducting) technology requiring large cryogenic systems. Grant applications are sought for research and development leading to the design and fabrication of improved cryomodules for superconducting cavity strings. Each cryomodule typically contains four to eight cavities in helium vessels and includes couplers, tuners, quadrupoles, 2K helium distribution system, and instrumentation to measure temperatures and pressures in the cryomodule during cool down and operation. Improvements in cryomodule components, cryomodule design and fabrication techniques which result in lower costs, improved control of cavity alignment, better understanding of cavity temperatures, and lower heat leaks are of particular interest. Other areas of interest include optimized methods for current leads for magnet operation at 2K where the helium pressures are sub atmospheric and use of cryocoolers to cool SRF cavities. Grant applications also are sought to increase the technical refrigeration efficiency – from 20% Carnot to 30% Carnot – for large systems (e.g. 10 kW at 2K), while maintaining higher efficiency over a capacity turndown of up to 50%. This might be done, for example, by reducing the number of compression stages or by improving the efficiency of stages. Grant applications also are sought to develop improved and highly efficient liquid helium distribution systems.

Questions – Contact: Ken Marken,

e. Ancillary Technologies for Superconductors

Grant applications are sought to develop innovative cable designs and wire processing technologies. Approaches of interest include methods to use stranded conductors with high aspect ratio to make efficient magnet cables, methods to adapt tape geometries to particle accelerator applications, and technologies to increase wire piece length and billet mass.

Grant applications also are sought for development of thermally efficient conduction cooled power leads for superconducting magnets through the use of good thermal intercepts which also electrically isolate. This would benefit all applications of superconducting magnets and PIP-II (Replacement of the Fermilab Proton Source and Linac).

Grant applications also are sought for innovative electrical insulating materials with reduced thickness to increase block current density in a coil while maintaining or increasing dielectric breakdown strength. Insulating systems must be compatible with the targeted superconductor and magnet processing cycle, (e.g. high temperature reactions in the 750-900 ºC range in the case of Nb3Sn or BSCCO), be capable of supporting high mechanical loads at both room and cryogenic temperatures, have a high coefficient of thermal conductivity, be resistant to radiation damage, and exhibit low creep and low out-gassing rates when irradiated.

Grant applications also are sought for superconducting materials used as shields for high magnetic fields (~1T and more) in places where space is at a premium. A typical example is the Muon g-2 Inflector magnet, which is the last magnet in the muon injection system in the ring. Such a shield requires a superconducting material, e.g. NbTi sheets, with dimensions of 2 m x 0.5 m fabricated in a multilayer composite with total thickness in the range of 0.5 mm - 1 mm. Other superconducting materials might also be considered including Nb3Sn and MgB2.

Questions – Contact: Ken Marken,

f. Other

In addition to the specific subtopics listed above, the Department invites grant applications in other areas that fall within the scope of the topic description above.

Questions – Contact: Ken Marken,


Subtopic a:

  1. Balachandran, U., et al., 2014, Advances in Cryogenic Engineering Materials: Transactions of the Cryogenic Engineering Conference, Anchorage AK, vol. 60, American Institute of Physics (AIP), New York City, NY, ISBN: 978-0-7354-1204-0, available at
  2. Scanlan, R., et al., 2004, Superconducting Materials for Large Scale Applications, Proceedings of the IEEE, vol. 92, issue 10, pp. 1639-1654, available at
  3. Track, E., et al., August 10-15, 2014, The 2014 Applied Superconductivity Conference, IEEE Transactions on Applied Superconductivity, vol. 25 no. 3,



Subtopic b:

  1. The Twenty-third International Conference on Magnet Technology, July 14-19, 2013, IEEE Transactions on Applied Superconductivity. vol. 24, no. 3, ISSN: 1051-8223, Boston, MA Available at
  2. Track, E., et al., August 10-15, 2014, The 2014 Applied Superconductivity Conference, IEEE Transactions on Applied Superconductivity, vol. 25, no. 3,
  3. Palmer, R.B., Fernow, R.C., and Lederman, J., 2011, Muon Collider Final Cooling in 30-50 T Solenoids, Proceedings of the 2011 Particle Accelerator Conference (PAC2011), New York, NY,
  4. Shiroyanagi, Y., et al., 2012, 15+ T HTS Solenoid for Muon Accelerator Program, Proceedings of the IPAC2012, New Orleans, LA,
  5. Schwartz, J., 2008, High Field Superconducting Solenoids via High Temperature Superconductors, IEEE Transactions on Applied Superconductivity, vol. 18, no. 2,





Subtopic c:

  1. Geng, R.L., et al., May 12-16, 2003, First RF Test at 4.2 K of a 200 MHz Superconducting Nb-Cu Cavity, Proceedings of the 2003 Particle Accelerator Conference (PAC2003), vol 2, pp. 1309- 1311, available at
  2. Singer, W., July 15, 2006, Seamless/bonded niobium cavities. Physica C: Superconductivity, Proceedings of the 12th International Workshop on RF Superconductivity, vol. 441, issues 1-2, pp. 89-94, available at
  3. Bousson, S., et al., March 27-April 2, 1999, An Alternative Scheme for Stiffing SRF Cavities by Plasma Spraying, Proceedings of the 1999 Particle Accelerator Conference, vol. 2, pp. 919-921, available at
  4. Dzyuba, A., Romanenko, A., and Cooley, L.D., 2010, Model for Initiation of Quality Factor Degradation at High Accelerating Fields in Superconducting Radio-frequency Cavities, Superconductor Science and Technology, vol. 23, issue 12, article ID: 125011, available at




Subtopic d:

  1. Weisend, J.G. II, et al., 2014, Advances in Cryogenic Engineering: Transactions of the Cryogenic Engineering Conference, Anchorage, AK, Vol. 59, American Institute of Physics (AIP), New York, NY, ISBN: 978-0-7354-1201-9, available at
  2. Track, E., et al., August 10-15, 2014, The 2014 Applied Superconductivity Conference, IEEE Transactions on Applied Superconductivity, vol. 25, no. 3,


Subtopic e:

  1. Balachandran, U., et al., 2014, Advances in Cryogenic Engineering Materials: Transactions of the Cryogenic Engineering Conference, Anchorage AK, vol. 60, American Institute of Physics (AIP), New York City, NY, ISBN: 978-0-7354-1204-0, available at
  2. Track, E., et al., August 10-15, 2014, The 2014 Applied Superconductivity Conference, IEEE Transactions on Applied Superconductivity, vol. 25, no. 3,
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