Magneto-optical imaging of superconductors for liquid hydrogen applications
Restricted deposits of fossil fuels and ecological problems created by their extensive use require a transition to renewable energy resources and clean fuel free from emissions of CO2. This fuel is likely to be liquid hydrogen. An important feature of liquid hydrogen is that it allows wide use of superconductivity. Superconductors provide compactness, high efficiency, savings in energy and a range of new applications not possible with other materials. The benefits of superconductivity justify use of low temperatures and facilitate development of fossil-free energy economy. The widespread use of superconductors requires a simple and reliable technique to monitor their properties. Magneto-optical imaging (MOI) is currently the only direct technique allowing visualization of the superconducting properties of materials. We report the application of this technique to key superconducting materials suitable for the hydrogen economy: MgB2 and high temperature superconductors (HTS) in bulk and thin-film form. The study shows that the MOI technique is well suited to the study of these materials. It demonstrates the advantage of HTS at liquid hydrogen temperatures and emphasizes the benefits of MgB2, in particular.