A cosmic microwave background radiation polarimeter using superconducting bearings

Shaul Hanany, Tomotake Matsumura, Brad Johnson, Terry Jones, John R. Hull, Ki B. Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Measurements of the polarization of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation are expected to significantly increase our understanding of the early universe. We present a design for a CMB polarimeter in which a cryogenically cooled half wave plate rotates by means of a high-temperature superconducting (HTS) bearing. The design is optimized for implementation in MAXIPOL, a balloon-borne CMB polarimeter. A prototype bearing, consisting of commercially available ring-shaped permanent magnet and an array of YBCO bulk HTS material, has been constructed. We measured the coefficient of friction as a function of several parameters including temperature between 15 and 80 K, rotation frequency between 0.3 and 3.5 Hz, levitation distance between 6 and 10 mm, and ambient pressure between 10-7 and 1 torr. The low rotational drag of the HTS bearing allows rotations for long periods of time with minimal input power and negligible wear and tear thus making this technology suitable for a future satellite mission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2128-2133
Number of pages6
JournalIEEE Transactions on Applied Superconductivity
Issue number2 II
StatePublished - Jun 2003
Event2002 Applied Superconductivity Conference - Houston, TX, United States
Duration: Aug 4 2002Aug 9 2002


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