For several decades, the 3D printing of metals has been adding to a myriad of industries. One thing missing from the technology, however, is ensuring their electrical properties match specific necessities, such as those that require superconductivity.
Superconducting cavities are used to store microwaves for use in particle accelerators, function as ultra-sensitive motion detectors for measuring the speed of light, and they have a host of other important applications in physics.
Now, at the University of Melbourne in Australia, Professor Daniel Creedon and his team have successfully designed and built a superconducting aluminum microwave cavity through a 3D printer for the first time, bringing metal 3D printing to a higher level.
This new development would help make substantial advancements in particle physics (as well as related fields).
The composition of 3D printed superconducting aluminum, which starts out as aluminum powder, is a little different from standard industrial aluminum, and come out with rough surfaces. But the process is quick and cheap, and the team has found ways to refine the cavities with no significant impact on the resulting cavities’ superconductivity.