Superconductors

  • Carla Moris profile
    Carla Moris
    1 May 2016 - updated 2 years ago
    Total votes: 2

Contribution received to the FET Flagships consultation: Superconductors

Reporter: Pierre VEDRINE - CEA Saclay

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Superconductivity is a "macroscopic quantum phenomenon" which some materials exhibit at low temperatures (typically below 90 K). The superconducting state shows a number of extraordinary features: it allows, for example, an electrical DC current to flow with no loss. Today large and powerful superconducting magnets, exploiting this zero resistance, are routinely used in science, research and technological development (RTD) and in medical diagnosis, using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), the latter representing the biggest current market for superconductivity. In addition, the ultralow AC losses of superconductors may also result in potentially large energy savings in power applications, and demonstrations of power cables, transformers, motors or current limiters have already been made. Still another application is in exceedingly sharp, low noise microwave filters for base stations of radio communication systems. Finally, "Superconducting Quantum Interference Devices" (SQUIDs) based on weakly coupled so-called Josephson Junctions, enable us to monitor magnetic fields, which are more than a billion times weaker than the earth magnetic field, and made it possible to successfully record functions of the heart and the brain. These quantum interference effects have also been utilized in a new class of ultrafast, ultralow-power superconductor electronics, which in the future are expected to play an important role in areas like communication and computing, where traditional semiconductor electronics have reached their performance limit.

Discovery of novel superconducting materials and the fast development of the superconducting technologies and their dissemination in the European market and society will lead to a new paradigm.

Superconductors and related technologies will translate into significant benefits to our life, our societies and economies across a broad range of endeavors. Superconductors offer the promise of important major advances in efficiency and performance in electric power generation, transmission and storage; medical instrumentation; wireless communications; computing; transportation and scientific instruments that will result in new paradigms and in societal advances that are cost effective and environmentally friendly.

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