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Dr A Patel and Prof M G Blamire

Superconductivity was discovered a little over a century ago and, although it can only be observed at cryogenic temperatures, it enables both the sensitive measurement of very small magnetic fields and the generation of very high fields, with applications from medical diagnostics to high energy physics. In its second century, superconductivity has a large role to play in meeting energy needs, increasing energy efficiency, and supporting renewable generation and distribution of electricity.

The focus of this course is on the materials science of superconducting materials and devices. After briefly covering the nature and origins of superconductivity, the first part of this course will investigate how materials properties for electrical and magnetic applications can be optimised. In the second part, you will understand how the properties of superconducting devices are related to the underlying properties of superconductors such as the density of states. The lectures will explain how these properties can be exploited, for example as highly sensitive magnetic field sensors and very low energy electronic devices. The course will also cover how such devices may be fabricated and the materials used.

This lecture course will cover:

Superconducting materials

  • A brief overview of the discovery, characteristics and theory of superconductivity
  • Superconductors with internal magnetic flux: intermediate state, mixed state, flux pinning and the critical state model
  • Superconducting elements, alloys and compounds
  • The production and processing of practical superconducting wires and tapes, including Nb-Ti, Nb3Sn, MgB2, BSCCO and YBCO conductors
  • Applications of superconductivity: MRI, NMR, high energy physics and rotating machines

Superconducting devices

  • The BCS theory and tunnel junctions
  • The Josephson effect and Josephson tunnel junctions
  • The proximity effect and SNS Josephson junctions
  • SQUIDs and flux quantum devices
  • Particle and photon detector devices
  • Superconductor / ferromagnet devices