Control of core structure in MgB2 wire through tailoring boron powder
A common fabrication process for MgB2 wire, namely, the in situ powder-in-tube process, forms numerous voids within the wire core, and void formation cannot be completely avoided. The orientation is, however, known to be aligned more or less along the current-flow direction when ductile coarse magnesium powder is used as a precursor, and further tailoring approaches could open up the way to improving the transport critical current density. Herein, we have used boron powders with different particle sizes, in combination with the coarse magnesium powder, and evaluated their size effects on the phase composition, microstructure, and transport properties. A mixture of the coarse magnesium powder with large-sized boron powder in the wire core, after cold working and sintering, forms a granular morphology. In contrast, an aligned core appears during the reduction process for wire which is prepared by using fine boron powder. The sintering process, especially at a low temperature, where magnesium evaporation hardly occurs, yields an aligned structure, mainly consisting of MgB2 phase, along the wire direction. These findings demonstrate that the initial size of the starting materials is critical for the tailored structure.