The development of a high-temperature superconducting magnetic sensor (SQUID) has been reported. It is relatively easy to handle in comparison with a Nb SQUID because it can work at liquid nitrogen temperature. This high Tc SQUID has great potential for application in medical diagnostics, nondestructive tests and geological survey, and in other areas. Recently a single channel of the high Tc SQUID was placed on the market. It is expected that this SQUID will accelerate the development of SQUID applications.
The superconducting magnet levitation railway system will make its debut as a new high-speed mass transport system in the 21st century. In conjunction with the Central Japan Railway Company, the Railway Technical Research Institute (RTRI) started test running of the system in April 1997 on the Yamanashi Test Line. Eight months thereafter, or in December 1997, the test vehicles recorded the world's highest speed of 550km/h, which had been the first target of the development. Various tests related to the system are successfully being promoted to verify the high technical level attained so far. This paper outlines the developmental processes of the superconducting magnet, on-board refrigeration system, and other cryogenic systems; reports the results and operation during the past year; and introduces some of the key technologies that led to the unprecedented speed of 550km/h.