A high-resolution superconducting pressure gauge and irreversible magnetic effects in Nb and NbTi wires

David Saxey

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

A high resolution pressure gauge has been developed for use in thermodynamic measurements along the lambda line in liquid helium. The gauge was designed to operate at cryogenic temperatures and provide pressure measurements up to 30bar, with an accuracy of 3 × 10¯¹ºbar in a 1Hz bandwidth. Experiments reported here show the gauge to have met these specifications; at least for measurements close to zero pressure, at temperatures close to 4.5K. It is expected that operation at higher pressures, and at temperatures closer to the lambda transition, will result in similar or even improved performance. The gauge consists of a titanium-alloy diaphragm with a superconducting position transducer read-out. Compensation techniques internal to the superconducting circuit were used to eliminate any significant sensitivity to temperature fluctuations and in-line acceleration. For high values of common-mode rejection, thermal compensation revealed a non-linear temperature characteristic which was exploited to provide a further reduction in the temperature sensitivity. Acceleration compensation was achieved up to a common-mode rejection of more than 78dB. Present performance appears to be limited by thermal gradient fluctuations at low frequencies and at higher frequencies by a noise source which appears to originate beyond the superconducting transducer. It is expected that some further improvement may be gained in this higher frequency band simply by trapping a larger persistent current in the superconducting circuit. In the course of development and characterization of the gauge several anomalous effects were discovered and investigated. In response to changes in temperature, the gauge was found to exhibit irreversible behaviour in a variety of ways. These phenomena were fully investigated and found to be complex in nature. A critical state model was employed which was successful in explaining many of the observed effects. Other authors have observed apparently related behaviour in samples of niobium and some have developed similar critical state models which give results generally consistent with those reported here. However, these latter works have not investigated the presence of such effects within superconducting wires; neither have they considered the implications for devices based upon superconducting wire circuits. It appears this anomalous behaviour may be relevant to a broad range of instruments employing superconducting wire circuits similar to that used here. If this is the case, the results presented here have significant consequences for the performance of such devices
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2003

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