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Superconducting magnets are finding increasing applications outside research laboratories, due both to new commercial and industrial demands for high magnetic fields, and to advances in magnet design and cooling technology. Applications such as minerals separation, large-diameter crystal growth and ceramic processing may benefit from the high magnetic fields and field gradients possible with superconducting magnets. While whole-body MR imaging is a well-established application of superconducting magnets in medicine, new medical applications are emerging. The challenge in designing all such magnets is to combine stringent magnetic field parameters (field profile, gradient, etc.) with economical operating costs and industrial ruggedness. Oxford Instruments is engaged with several commercial magnet applications, and the development of Cryofree(R) and helium recondensing systems has opened new opportunities to exploit superconducting magnets in an economic and reliable way. A review of the key technologies and design constraints of such magnet systems will be given. The most recent commercial magnets constructed by Oxford Instruments will be described, giving focus to the innovative steps which have enabled their production.
Date of Publication: March 2000