Emma Gillard

Durham University

I am a PhD student in the superconductivity group at Durham University. I previously completed a 4 year master’s degree at Oxford University. My research will focus on optimising the superconducting magnets used in the Tokamaks for magnetic confinement fusion. These magnets are important for containment of the plasma in which fusion occurs, but are expensive to produce, contributing to one third of the total cost of ITER. The magnets used in ITER currently are Low Temperature Superconductors (LTS), but the next generation of Tokamaks may be more effective using High Temperature Superconductors (HTS) that are exposed to higher magnetic fields.

The critical current density (Jc) is an important property of a superconductor and is the maximum current density that the sample can carry until it becomes non-superconducting. My project will investigate how the critical current density (Jc) of a HTS varies with the applied magnetic field, temperature and applied strain. I’ll be working to understand the nature of flux pinning and flux flow in high Jc materials under two dimensional strain, and why the measured values of Jc are so much lower than the theoretical limit in high magnetic fields.

In order to achieve this understanding, I’ll be taking measurements of the properties of superconducting samples using the horizontal and vertical magnet systems in Durham that can reach magnetic fields of up to 15 T.