Although magnetic materials and magnetic fields are naturally occurring, the most powerful magnet in the world is man-made. Reaching a huge 100 tesla, the magnet is over 2 million times more powerful than the Earth’s own magnetic field, and sits in the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (NHMFL).
In March 2012, researchers at the facility were able to claim that they had created the strongest magnetic field ever, that was non-destructive. The power of the magnet is over 100 times more powerful than a typical junkyard magnet often seen moving cars or heavy pieces of equipment, and 30 times stronger than the magnetic field that comes from an MRI scan.
The Los Alamos facility is one of three sites that form the NHMFL and the current home of the colossal magnet. Weighing in at 18,000 pounds, and with a huge 1,200 megajoule motor generator, it provides researches with a unique tool to use in their study of materials and the effect of magnetic fields on them. Although other attempts have been made to build similar magnets, none have successfully been able to emit a magnetic field without destroying themselves. As such, the magnet at the Los Alamos site is called a multi shot in reference to its ability to be used over and again – as often as once an hour.
The magnet is composed of four electrical circuits and is surrounded by liquid nitrogen, which keeps it at a cool -198.15 degrees Celsius. This is inside a container known as a dewar and it is used to keep the magnet cool and prevent it from overheating. The magnet is so strong that it also emits a loud shrieking sound when in use, caused by the electrical current modulation. It can only be kept on for a few seconds.