University of Minnesota
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Shaul Hanany

A Cosmic Micorwave Background Radiation Polarimeter Using Superconducting Bearings
S. Hanany, T. Matsumura, B. Johnson, J. R. Hull, and K. B. Ma, 2003, IEEE Trans. Appl. Supercond., Vol. 13, pg. 2128, astro-ph/0304312

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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.