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Toshiba's Technology contributted to the Discovery of the Higgs Boson.

The other superconducting technology and accelerator applications

Following the solenoid presented last time, the second interview provides information on the other Toshiba-supplied magnets to CERN, called "MQX-A," as well as applications of accelerators into our lives. Tomofumi Orikasa, Design Engineer for Equipment/Devices, and Yuji Sano, Senior Fellow at Toshiba Power & Industrial Systems R&D Center, talk about their involvement and experience in the project.

The Other Magnets that Contributed to the Discovery of the Higgs Boson


Sano(left) and Orikasa(right) talk about their involvement and experience in the project.

In the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, beams are squeezed into a single point for effective head-on collisions. For making this happen, it also needs to generate strong magnetic field with superconducting quadrupole magnets. Toshiba delivered a total of 18 units of such magnets for squeezing beams, called "MQX-A," to CERN. Among numerous other magnets placed around the LHC circumference, the "MQX-A" are regarded as the most technically difficult to fabricate.


The MQX-A is installed in front of the proton collision points.


The MQX-A fabricated at Toshiba Keihin Complex (left); the cross-sectional view (right);


MQX-A cross-sectional view : Proton beams are squeezed into the center with the superconducting magnets installed in four sections.



The MQX-A magnets in the manufacturing stage at Toshiba Keihin Complex


Fabrication of the MQX-A :Toshiba expertise in winding coils on the surface of the 4 sections, using the self-propelled winding machines

The MQX-A is 47 centimeters in outer diameter and 7 meters in length, in which, a path of 7 centimeters in diameter penetrates lengthwise through the center. It weighs 8.5 tons in total. The magnetic field is generated by passing electrical current (i.e. 7150 ampere *1 through the superconducting cables. In order to make it in a highly-efficient superconducting state, the magnets must be cooled down to minus 271 degrees Celsius with liquid helium.

The primary requirement for the MQX-A is to be able to generate a magmatic field of 90,000 gauss *2 at the maximum. This requirement can be met only with the use of superconducting coils. In addition, the supporting devices should be in place to fix the coil tightly for withstanding over 300 atmospheres of electromagnetic forces. Moreover, due to the cooling to minus 271 degrees Celsius, the total length (i.e. 7 meters) may shrink as much as 2 centimeters. Under the circumstance, the design team pursued creative solutions, including the use of materials keeping their strength at extremely low temperatures.

The other requirement included accuracy and precision in fabrication. More specifically, the team maintained the differences between designed positions of superconducting coil and the actual ones to be less than 50 microns *3 so that the geometry of magnetic field under design exactly matched with the actual field for proton-beam collisions with pinpoint accuracy. In order to achieve this level of precision, each part was designed and machined with the accuracy of 10 microns.

"Developing a specialized self-propelled winding machine, we finished fabricating 18 units of MQX-A in six years. ...We are capable of making the same products with the same levels of precision and quality over a long period of time. This is our expertise that we proudly offer to our clients," Orikasa describes.

As well as meeting highly technical requirements, Toshiba is capable of manufacturing/fabricating exactly the same products while maintaining the same levels of precision and quality over the years. This is our specialty that Toshiba provide to the clients!

*1 Electrical current fed to the MQX-A superconducting coil is more than 500 times compared with that used in homes. (i.e. 10A)
*2 90,000 gauss = 9 tesla; the tesla is the SI unit for magnetic field. One tesla is equivalent to a force that is able to lift an approx. 40-ton object per 1m2. With 9 tesla, a 3,000-ton of magnetic substance (e.g. iron) can be lifted.
*3 1 micron = 1 micrometer, equivalent to 1 /103 millimeter.

Facing Challenges Together

"Without KEK' s help and cooperation, we couldnft complete the MQX-A project as we did. During the 6 years of fabrication phase, KEK and Toshiba built an excellent team relationship. This really helped boost our team morale in the workplace as well as maintaining effective quality control practices. Everyone involved in the project was working in the same direction and with shared visions," recalls Orikasa.

Accelerator Applications Making Our Life Easier

As well as those delivered to CERN, Toshiba accelerators have been utilized at advanced research institutions in Japan, including "SPring-8," a large synchrotron radiation facility in Hyogo-prefecture (under the management of RIKEN/JASRI *4) and the Aichi Synchrotron Radiation Center in Aichi-prefecture. In the second half of this interview, information related to such experiments currently being conducted at these institutions is provided.


Accelerators allow the researchers to examine the structure thoroughly.

Accelerators allow the scientists to create various types of particles and lights. For example, at SPring-8, strong X-ray *5 light with a very short wave length, is created and used for examining the atomic structure of a substance as well as observing changes in structure in 1 / 1010 second. This technology is applied to the analysis of fine particles that the spacecraft Hayabusa brought back from the space. The scientists also use accelerators to examine protein structures to identify substances that may cause certain types of disease or find allergens that trigger seasonal allergies. In the future, these efforts may lead to the development of new drugs.


Metal reinforcement process with the application of "Laser Peening"

Using accelerators, Toshiba conducts experiments at these research institutions also and incorporates the results into its products.
"We developed laser technology and applied that to metal reinforcement *6. At SPring-8, we examine metal fatigue that occurs inside and analyze the process that objects are being destroyed. We review the findings to determine our best practices for laser irradiation so that we can increase the metal durability and make it lighter in weight" explains Sano.

"We already apply this technology to reinforcement of our rotating turbine blades at the power plants. As we succeed in developing a new, more durable and lighter material in the future, that could eventually lead to improve our quality of life," continues Sano.

*4 Japan Synchrotron Radiation Research Institute.
*5 An electromagnetic wave with the wavelength ranging from 1 nm (i.e. 1/109m) to 1 / 100s nm. Due to the penetrating ability, the electromagnetic wave is utilized to image inside an object, including medical X-ray imaging.
*6 Toshiba specialized technology, called "Laser Peening".

In addition to making contribution to the discovery of the Higgs Boson, Toshiba accelerator technology also support our daily lives in such unnoticeable manners. Suppose that more experiments and studies are conducted with the use of accelerators. Then, as the technology further advances, what the future holds? Next time, the final interview will present the history of Toshiba accelerator development and the future perspectives and visions. We hope that you find it very informative. Thank you!

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