• Application of superconducting magnesium diboride (MgB2) in superconducting radio frequency cavities

      Xi, Xiaoxing; Wolak, Matthaeus A.; Chen, Ke; Karapetrov, Goran (Temple University. Libraries, 2015)
      The superconductivity in magnesium diboride (MgB2) was discovered in 2001. As a BCS superconductor, MgB2 has a record-high Tc of 39 K, high Jc of > 107 A/cm2 and no weak link behavior across the grain boundary. All these superior properties endorsed that MgB2 would have great potential in both power applications and electronic devices. In the past 15 years, MgB2 based power cables, microwave devices, and commercial MRI machines emerged and the next frontier are superconducting radio frequency (SRF) cavities. SRF cavities are one of the leading accelerator technologies. In SRF cavities, applied microwave power generates electrical fields that accelerate particle beams. Compared with other accelerator techniques, SRF cavity accelerators feature low loss, high acceleration gradients and the ability to accelerate continuous particle beams. However, current SRF cavities are made from high-purity bulk niobium and work at 2 K in superfluid helium. The construction and operational cost of SRF cavity accelerators are very expensive. The demand for SRF cavity accelerators has been growing rapidly in the past decade. Therefore, a lot of effort has been devoted to the enhancement of the performance and the reduction of cost of SRF cavities. In 2010, an acceleration gradient of over 50 MV/m has been reported for a Nb-based SRF cavity. The magnetic field at the inner surface of such a cavity is ~ 1700 Oe, which is close to the thermodynamic critical field of Nb. Therefore, new materials and technologies are required to raise the acceleration gradient of future SRF cavity accelerators. Among all the proposed approaches, using MgB2 thin films to coat the inner surface of SRF cavities is one of the promising tactics with the potential to raise both the acceleration gradient and the operation temperature of SRF cavity accelerators. In this work, I present my study on MgB2 thin films for their application in SRF cavities. C-epitaxial MgB2 thin films grown on SiC(0001) substrates showed Tc > 41 K and Jc > 107 A/cm2, which is superior to bulk MgB2 samples. Polycrystalline MgB2 thin films grown on metal substrates showed similar Tc and Jc compared with bulk samples, indicating MgB2 is suitable for coating a metal cavity. Large c-pitaxial MgB2 thin films were grown on 2-inch diameter c-sapphire wafers, showing our technique is capable of depositing large area samples. The lower critical field (Hc1) of MgB2 thin films was measured as well as it is know that bulk MgB2 has a small Hc1 and would suffer from vortex penetration at low magnetic fields. The penetrating magnetic vortices would result in loss in an applied RF field. However, due to the geometry barrier, thin film MgB2 would have a higher Hc1 than the bulk material. In my experiments, the Hc1 of MgB2 thin films increased with decreasing film thickness. At 5 K, a 100 nm epitaxial MgB2 thin film showed enhanced Hc1 ~ 1880 Oe, which is higher than Hc1 of Nb at 2 K. This showed that MgB2 coated SRF cavities have the potential to work at higher magnetic fields and higher temperature. Because the magnetic field distribution in the thin film Hc1 measurement is different from the magnetic field in a real SRF cavity, a few Nb ellipsoids were machined and coated with MgB2. The ellipsoid only has a magnetic field outside its surface and can serve as an inverse SRF cavity in the vortex penetration measurement. In the experiments, vortices penetrate into the bulk Nb ellipsoid at a magnetic field 400 Oe lower than the vortex penetration field of MgB2 coated Nb ellipsoids. This result confirmed our prediction that MgB2 coated SRF cavities could work at higher magnetic fields, thus producing higher acceleration gradients. In the last part of this thesis, I discussed how I used the dielectric resonator technique to measure the surface resistance (Rs) and Tc of MgB2 thin films. While the sensitivity of this technique was not high enough to lead to reliable Rs values, it can still serve for the determination of Tc for large area samples that are too bulky for other measurement systems.