A look inside a Magnet

Eventually we managed to cut open a S.C. magnet and have a look inside. The cutting work was performed at the mechanical shop of the Chemistry Department of the University of Pisa, Italy and the cutter was Mr. Paolo Nardini. Here is how it looks like


The magnet is and old-style Varian 7.04T magnet, type R2D2 as it was known between Varian service people.

The two cryogenics dewar are clearly visible, the upper is the LN chamber and the lowe is the LHe chamber with the coils inside; also the system of the concentric vacuum chambers can be appreciated

By the way, I have two questions for magnet old-timers:
1) Where the R2D2 name comes from?
2) Who came first: the R2D2 magnet or C3P8 android of Star Wars? They are too similar one to the other, who copied the other?

Following photos shows the inside of the inner LHe Dewar with details of the coils and the proud cutter.


The Cutter











The small black cilynders on the left side of the coils
are the superconducting switches.


We also cutted an Oxford 4.7 T magnet, and here here is a couple of shots. The cutting was performed by Mr. Moreno Acciai at the Officine Meccaniche Fantini shop in Calenzano (Florence)

Disassembled Magnet

Inner Dewar and Coils



5 thoughts on “A look inside a Magnet

  1. george gray

    The Star Wars movie came out in about 1975. The XL200 using the “R2D2” magnet was introduced in 1978, so the movie was first and coined the name.

  2. Bert Heise

    The name for R2D2 was found by George Lucas during the production of another movie before Star Wars, when someone called for “R2D2” which meant “Reel 2 Dialogue 2”. Lucas liked that and took note for later…

  3. Aracelis Cardona


    We have a 300MHz Varian, quenched like 7 years ago. We will like to cut it, so students can have access to the hardware – teaching purposes. How did you cut yours?… What we will need? Its there’s any safety issues related to it? The metal is aluminum or stainless steel?

    I will appreciate your response, thanks,

    1. vanni Post author

      I was not the one who did the cutting, was just a bystander, a few hints:
      – magnet can is 100% aluminium (highest quality by the way…)
      – the job was done with an power handtool and cutting discs for Al; some 15 discs where weared out
      – huge amount of Al powder is generated; protection clothes and breathing masks are essential; it’s a several hours job
      – we did the job outside with a powerful vacuum cleaner to get most of the powder
      – be careful at the last cut, the coil is very close to the wall and will be easily damaged

      Have fun!


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