The cuprate superconductors rapidly degrade in moisture and in the presence of organic compounds. A protection method has been developed with a coating process using sol/gel routes to the low temperature formation of oxide films. In contrast to traditional protective films, amorphous silica films formed from a solution precursors gave excellent protection and caused little degradation of the superconductors.
The protective abilities of the films were assessed by monitoring the degradation of Y1Ba2Cu307-d in the presence of 85% relative humidity at 85 C. Volume magnetic susceptibility, four-point probe resistivity, current density measurements and x-ray diffraction were performed. Without protection, degradation was almost complete within 30 minutes of exposure. With protection, superconducting properties were maintained even after 48 hours of exposure.