PhD Scholarship – Superconducting Dynamos

PhD Project: Imaging overcritical currents in a high-Tc superconducting dynamo

Superconducting dynamos are unusual devices which enable large DC currents to be injected into a closed superconducting coil. These small high-current (>1 kA) devices have the potential to revolutionise the design and use of superconducting magnets. However, the precise mechanism by which the dynamo operates is not well understood, and has been a source of confusion for decades. The dynamo passes a magnetic field pulse across a superconducting film, such that Faraday’s law predicts only an AC emf should be present. Instead, very large DC outputs are experimentally observed! Our group has recently proposed that this effect can be explained by over-critical eddy currents in the superconducting film which act to rectify the AC emf. However, such eddy currents have never previously been measured in a dynamo device.

In this PhD project, the student will experimentally image the stator film of a superconducting dynamo, using a 2D array of magnetic field sensors. From this data, the current distribution within the film will be reconstructed, providing important evidence on the underpinning physics of the dynamo and informing new finite element models that can predict dynamo behaviour. Ultimately this data will enable new dynamo designs which can achieve higher output currents, and are appropriate for use in next generation superconducting magnets for MRI/NMR systems, superconducting motors/generators, beam line magnets or other applications.

The successful applicant will:

  • Have a first-class honours degree in applied physics, engineering or a related discipline, and a deep understanding of the physics of electromagnetism.
  • Have an aptitude for practical physics experiments involving electronic data acquisition and cryogenic equipment
  • Be able to independently learn a wide range of new skills required to address difficult problems.
  • Have excellent written English skills, and a strong motivation to develop an academic publication record.
  • Be exceptionally motivated to contribute to this fast-moving and exciting field, and able to work in a team environment alongside other researchers.

This project is based within the Robinson Research Institute at Victoria university of Wellington, and funded by New Zealand’s prestigious ‘Marsden fund’. It is a unique opportunity to work with the world’s leading research team in this field, who collaborate widely with research organisations around the world. In particular, the student will be part of a highly active collaboration with the Bulk Superconductivity group at Cambridge University (UK). We are looking to appoint an outstanding candidate who will bring drive and enthusiasm to the development of this emerging new superconductor technology.

Scholarship: Student will receive a stipend $27,500 pa for 3 years, plus payment of all university fees.

Primary Supervisor and Contact: Dr. Chris Bumby (

Applications will remain open until this position is filled