Speaker: Professor Peter de Groot
Coffee and tea from 7.00pm
Talk starts at 7.30pm
Superconductivity is one of the most intriguing states of matter. It was discovered by Heike Kamerlingh Onnes in Leiden 100 years ago. In the late 19th century he had the vision to embark on a programme investigating the properties of matter at low temperatures.
Knowing that the resistance of simple metals decreases with temperature, Kamerlingh Onnes explored the possibility of "supra-conductivity" at low temperatures, which resulted in the discovery by his group of the
superconducting transition in mercury. It took until the 1950's for theoretical work to explain the occurrence of superconductivity at low temperatures.
These theories reveal that superconductivity is a macroscopic quantum state. They also set an upper limit to the temperature above which superconductivity breaks down. Hence there was an enormous excitement when in 1986 Bednorz and Müller discovered superconductivity at relatively high temperatures in cuprate materials.
This discovery has led to an intense, world-wide research activity, revealing superconductivity and other exotic electron states in many different oxide materials.
In parallel to these scientific discoveries, scientists and engineers have developed practical superconducting materials and devices, notable among these are superconducting magnets for applications such as magnetic resonance imaging and magnets for particle accelerators, high-Q microwave devices, and quantum devices for sensors and voltage standards.
Currently superconducting materials are being developed for power electrics such as low-loss power lines and current-limiters, helping our society move towards a greener economy, and quantum electronics which offers prospects for future applications, many of which are as yet