Superconducting materials work at temperatures only seen in outer space. They conduct electricity without resistance allowing powerful electromagnets to be built. Persistent currents in superconductors may circulate for thousands of years. Yet industrial use has been limited as there are challenges to their use.
Firstly most superconductors work in a temperature range of 2-4 K (-271 to -269 C). Such temperatures need cryogenic technology, i.e. liquid helium. Secondly, the superconducting state can be unstable: higher temperatures or electromagnetic fields can start a process called "quench" whereby the conductor becomes resistive, with potentially disastrous effects. Quench effects must be analyzed and mitigation measures put in place.
SIMULIA Opera is an electromagnetic finite element simulation code. It can calculate the fields produced by superconducting materials with extreme accuracy and can model the quenching process including electromagnetic fields, heating, forces and circuits.
In part due to tools like Opera, superconductors have been used in particle accelerators, MRI scanners and prototype fusion machines. Recently novel material types with transition temperatures above that of liquid nitrogen (77 K) have been found. Such temperatures have opened up new areas for superconductors inefficient electric motors and lossless transmission lines. High-temperature superconductors introduce new simulation challenges for which the Opera capabilities are perfectly suited.