Transport critical current of MgB2 wires: pulsed current of varying rate compared to direct current method
The measurement of transport critical current (Ic) forMgB2 wires and tapes has been investigated with two different techniques, the conventional four-probe arrangement with direct current (DC) power source, and a tailored triangle pulse at different rates of current change. The DC method has been widely used and practiced by various groups, but suffers from inevitable heating effects when high currents are used at low magnetic fields. The pulsed current method has no heating effects, but the critical current can depend on the rate of the current change (dI/dt) in the pulse. Our pulsed current measurements with varying dI/dt show that the same values of Ic are obtained as with the DC method, but without the artifacts of heating. Our method is particularly useful at low field regions which are often inaccessible by DC methods. We also performed a finite element method (FEM) analysis to obtain the time dependent heat distribution in MgB2 due to the electric potential produced at the current contacts to the superconducting sample and its gradient around the contacts. This gradient is defined as the current transfer length (CTL) of the samples and leads to Joule heating of the wire near the contacts. The FEM results provide further evidence of the limitation of the DC method in obtaining high transport critical current.