Comparative study of mono- and multi-filament MgB2 wires with different boron powders and malic acid addition
We evaluated the effects of different boron (B) powders and of malic acid (C4H6O5) addition on the critical current density (Jc) of mono- and multi-filament MgB2 wires. We found that Jc of the wires made from the amorphous B showed the best performance. Low sintering processing keeps the grain size small, which leads to strong flux pinning. From transmission electron microscopy (TEM) observations, we confirmed that the crystalline B powders supplied by SMI and Tangshan had a β-rhombohedral structure as a main phase. These two powders also had numerous defects, such as twin and stacking faults inside the powder particles. However, these defects are not enough to promote the full reaction between magnesium (Mg) and B crystalline powder when sintered at low temperatures, and brings about low Jc values. Even though the morphologies of the two crystalline B powders appeared somewhat different, Jc for the two wires had similar quantitative values. For the malic acid doped wires, Jc of the wire made from the amorphous B was estimated to be above 100 000 A cm − 2 at 6 T and 4.2 K. This value is comparable to the low temperature superconductor Nb–Ti. In addition, the Jc was 25 000 A cm − 2 at 10 T and 4.2 K. This performance is the best Jc reported so far in in situ processed MgB2 wires. Interestingly, the low-field Jc performance of malic acid doped wire fabricated with crystalline B is higher than that of the pure wire fabricated with amorphous B. At 20 K, enhanced performance of Jc by malic acid doping is much higher than that of the pure MgB2 wire. The Jc at 5 T and 20 K was estimated to be 13 000 A cm − 2.