Microstructure development in Nb3Sn(Ti) internal tin superconducting wire
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The authors have studied the phase formation sequences in a Nb3Sn ‘internal tin’ process superconductor. Heat treatments were performed to convert the starting materials of tin, Ti–Sn, copper and niobium, to bronze and Nb3Sn. Specimens were quenched at different points of the heat treatment, followed by metallography to identify the phases present and X-ray microtomography (XMT) to investigate the void volume and distribution. An unexpected observation of the microstructure development was the uphill diffusion of tin during the Cu–Sn reactive diffusion. Some defects likely to affect the superconducting performance of the wires were observed. Microscopy revealed the presence of a Ti–Sn intermetallic compound displacing the niobium filaments, and XMT revealed the formation of long pores in the longitudinal direction. Two types of pore formation mechanism, in addition to Kirkendall pores, are proposed. The phase and microstructure development suggests that low-temperature heat treatment (below 415 °C) will have significant influence on optimising the final superconducting properties.
KeywordsCritical Current Density Heat Treatment Schedule Bronze Matrix Niobium Filament CuSnTi
Ian Pong would like to thank the Croucher Foundation, Hong Kong, and Simon Hopkins the EPSRC, for financial support.
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