We work on a range of superconducting materials, ranging from metallic thin films for device applications, to tapes and bulk materials for motors and other applications.
A range of metallic thin film with critical temperatures below 10 kelvin are grown by ultra-high vacuum sputter deposition: examples are Nb, Al and amorphous MoSi. We also grow NbN which has a somewhat higher critical temperature and is compatible with other nitride materials.
In particular, the Driscoll group are working on 2 aspects of superconductivity. The first one is quite applied and the second more fundamental. The first is on improving pinning in rapidly-grown (liquid-assisted) coated conductors of REBCO-based superconductors. This work is very important for getting high performance, cost-effective superconductors into the market place and will impact on applications such as SMES, LHC coils, motors, generators and NMR. The work is in collaboration with Applied Materials (US) and Sunam (Korea). The second area is on novel 3D strain nanoegineering of La2CuO4 to increase its Tc beyond the highest Tc observed in single layer cuprates. This work has both practical significance and may also help shed light on the superconducting mechanism of cuprates.
Image to the right shows a cross-sectional TEM of an YBCO superconductor thin film with nanocolumns of pinning addition (Nb+Ta double perovskite) embedded within it. The nanocolumns act as very effective magnetic flux pinning centres.