American Superconductor Reports Significant Advance in Second Generation High Temperature Superconductor Wire

Nanotechnology-based modification to manufacturing process

doubles electrical performance in strong magnetic fields

Dec 14, 2004, 00:00 ET from American Superconductor Corporation

    WESTBOROUGH, Mass., Dec. 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- American
 Superconductor Corporation (Nasdaq:   AMSC), a leading electricity solutions
 company, today reported it has doubled the electric performance of its latest
 high temperature superconductor (HTS) wire in strong magnetic fields at
 relatively high temperatures, an achievement necessary for incorporating the
 advanced wires in a range of commercial and military applications.
     The company attained an electrical current of 102 Amperes per centimeter
 of width (A/cm-width) of its second generation (2G) wire at 65 degrees Kelvin
 (K) in a strong magnetic field of 3 Tesla (T) applied perpendicular to the
 surface of the tape-shaped wire.  This performance level is significant
 because it is already at 88% of the level for electrical current in high
 magnetic fields targeted for two years from now by the Defense Advanced
 Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which supports this work.  AMSC's DARPA
 program goal is to reach 115 A/cm-width by the beginning of 2007, all at 65K
 with a 3T magnetic field applied perpendicular to the surface of the 2G wire.
 By comparison, the earth's magnetic field is approximately 0.000025 T and a
 typical kitchen magnet has a field around a tenth of a Tesla.
     AMSC achieved the substantial performance improvement by adding a certain
 amount of the rare-earth metal holmium to the superconductor coating in its
 proprietary 2G wire manufacturing process.  Under the proper manufacturing
 conditions, the addition of holmium leads to the creation of atomic-scale
 holmium-containing particles (nanodots).  The nanodots serve to immobilize
 ("pin") the magnetic lines of force in place in the superconductor.  The
 pinning allows higher amounts of electrical current to flow even in the
 presence of strong magnetic fields and at relatively high temperatures of
     Today's technical media advisory was accompanied by the public release by
 AMSC of an updated version of its white paper on 2G HTS wire technology.  This
 white paper, "2G HTS Wire Technology: An Assessment," can be found in the
 Learn More section of American Superconductor's home page at along with other supporting materials.
     Technical Background
     Designers planning to incorporate the latest high temperature
 superconductor (HTS) technology in their commercial and military products are
 paying close attention to this progress.  First generation (1G) HTS wire is
 commercially available today and being applied in a variety of electric power
 grid, motor, generator and magnet applications (see 2G wire, which is designed
 to be a form, fit and function replacement for 1G wire, is expected to extend
 the reach of HTS technology by providing a combination of higher electrical
 performance and lower cost.  AMSC currently is fitting out a pre-pilot plant
 for producing 2G HTS wire and expects to start shipping larger quantities of
 2G wire to customers starting in the second half of calendar year 2005.
     Earlier this year, AMSC achieved a new record for 2G electrical
 performance of wire fabricated with its low-cost process: 380 A/cm-width at 77
 K (liquid nitrogen coolant) with no applied magnetic field, well above the
 commercial threshold of 300 A/cm-width for applications such as power cables
 that operate in very low magnetic fields.  Applications such as power cables
 do not require the presence of nanodots in the superconductor.  By contrast
 the present nanodot-enhanced wire is optimized for coil-based applications,
 which require 2G wires to maintain their electrical performance in strong
 magnetic fields.
     Military applications, such as very high speed generators and kinetic
 energy weapons systems, require electromagnets operating at high magnetic
 fields.  They are expected to be made possible thanks to the electrical
 properties of 2G HTS wire -- its ability to carry enormous amounts of current
 with zero resistance and thus enhance the power of the electromagnetic coils
 used in these applications.
     The flow of current in the superconductor wire making up an
 electromagnetic coil creates a magnetic field that enables the device to
 operate.  However, the increased magnetic field also lowers the maximum
 current that can flow with zero resistance through the wire.
     In recent work, AMSC has found a way to enhance the high levels of 2G
 wires' electrical performance to make their use practical even in these high
 magnetic field settings.  The company's scientists achieved the required
 electrical performance by "pinning" the magnetic lines of force (known
 technically as flux lines or vortices) within the 2G wire.  They accomplished
 the pinning by carefully introducing a variety of defects into the
 superconductor, including a dispersion of tiny foreign particles or
 "nanodots."  Each type of defect has a different effect on the wire's
 electrical performance, with the sum result being improved current carrying
 abilities under a range of temperature and magnetic field conditions.
     AMSC uses a proprietary metal-organic deposition (MOD), process that
 involves applying a liquid precursor of the superconductor material, an
 yttrium-barium-copper oxide commonly known as "YBCO," as a film onto a
 metallic base.  Together, the base and the metal-organic film deposited on it
 are processed into electrical wire.  The company has adapted this patented
 manufacturing method to include nanodots that are regularly distributed in the
 YBCO film.  The composition and distribution of particles is controlled
 through chemical modification of the liquid precursor and by the company's
 proprietary processing conditions.
     In particular AMSC has been successful in doping the YBCO films with
 holmium (Ho) cations creating a dispersion of (Ho,Y)2O3 nanodots throughout
 the YBCO.  The appropriate concentration of Ho-containing nanodots results in
 a 100 percent increase in the critical current of the YBCO film at 65 degrees
 Kelvin in a magnetic field of 3 Tesla (oriented perpendicular to the wire's
 surface) compared to an undoped YBCO film of the same thickness.  A record
 critical current of 102A/cm-width (at 65K, 3T) has been achieved in a 1.4
 micron-thick YBCO film doped with a certain concentration of Ho.
     Achieving a critical current of over 100 A/cm-width at 65K in a 3T field
 is a significant milestone in developing 2G wire with a performance level
 meeting the demands for both commercial and military applications.  This work
 is supported by a DARPA contract, which AMSC received in June 2004, and is
 aimed at military applications.  It has a full program goal of 115 A/cm-width
 at 65K in a 3T field for early 2007, making the present advance well ahead of
 the DARPA program schedule.  The company is presently initiating work to apply
 these results to longer lengths of 2G wire.
     Note to Editors: Please see for more details
 on the architecture of 2G HTS wire, photomicrographs of nanodots, and data on
 improvements in electrical performance of 2G HTS wire attained with the aid of
     About American Superconductor Corporation (Nasdaq:   AMSC)
     AMSC is a world-leading supplier of dynamic reactive power grid
 stabilization products and the world's principal vendor of high temperature
 superconductor (HTS) wire and large rotating superconductor machinery.  AMSC's
 power electronic converters and HTS wire are at the core of a broad range of
 new electricity transmission and distribution, transportation, medical and
 industrial processing applications, including dynamic reactive power grid
 stabilization solutions, large ship propulsion motors and generators, smart,
 controllable, superconductor power cables and advanced defense systems.  The
 company's products are supported by hundreds of patents and licenses covering
 technologies fundamental to Revolutionizing the Way the World Uses
 Electricity(TM).  More information is available at
     American Superconductor, AMSC, POWERED BY AMSC, Revolutionizing the Way
 the World Uses Electricity, Cryoblock, DVC, PowerModule, PQ-IVR and
 SuperMachines are trademarks and D-VAR and SuperVAR are registered trademarks
 of American Superconductor Corporation.  All other trademarks are the property
 of their respective owners.
     Any statements in this release about future expectations, plans and
 prospects for the Company, including statements containing the words
 "believes," "anticipates," "plans," "expects," "will" and similar expressions,
 constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private
 Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.  There are a number of important
 factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those
 indicated by such forward-looking statements.  Such factors include:
 uncertainties regarding the Company's ability to obtain anticipated funding
 from corporate and government contracts, to successfully develop, manufacture
 and market commercial products, and to secure anticipated orders; the risk
 that a robust market may not develop for the Company's products; the risk that
 strategic alliances and other contracts may be terminated; the risk that
 certain technologies utilized by the Company will infringe intellectual
 property rights of others; and the competition encountered by the Company,
 including several large Japanese companies. Reference is made to these and
 other factors discussed in the "Management's Discussion and Analysis of
 Financial Condition and Results of Operation" section of the Company's most
 recent quarterly or annual report filed with the Securities and Exchange
 Commission. In addition, the forward-looking statements included in this press
 release represent the Company's views as of the date of this release. While
 the Company anticipates that subsequent events and developments may cause the
 Company's views to change, the Company specifically disclaims any obligation
 to update these forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements
 should not be relied upon as representing the Company's views as of any date
 subsequent to the date this press release is issued.

SOURCE American Superconductor Corporation