Superconductivity Is Celebrated This Year, Further Work Needed To Tame It09/04/2011 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a CommentShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Much of our best content is available only to IP Watch subscribers. We are a non-profit independent news service, and subscribing to our service helps support our goals of bringing more transparency to global IP and innovation policies. To access all of our content, please subscribe now.A hundred years ago, Dutch physicist Heike Kamerlingh Onnes and his student Gilles Holst discovered a property that was to launch decades of fervent research to understand the phenomenon: Superconductivity. Today, researchers are still trying to find ways to use this remarkable property, but are celebrating the centenary of its discovery. Superconductivity is the total disappearance of electrical resistance of certain materials when they are cooled down. On 8 April 1911, the two researchers had to cool down mercury to minus 273.15 degrees Celsius, according to Philippe Lebrun, leader of the Accelerator Technology Department at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). Lebrun spoke at a press conference on 7 April.Most materials can obtain superconductivity property if cooled down enough, Lebrun told Intellectual Property Watch. The challenge and the dream of researchers of today would be to find ways to reach this property at almost ambient temperature. At the moment, the need to cool down material hampers the benefit of the absence of resistance.It took almost 50 years for researchers to understand the principle, said Østein Fischer, director of materials with Novel Electronic Properties (MaNEP) research group, a network of 250 scientists from Swiss universities, institutes of technology, and industrial laboratories, according to MaNEP’s website. Progress in research has permitted the finding of materials developing superconductivity at a more moderate temperature (-138 degrees Celsius).The most popular application of a technology using superconductivity is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI, a non-invasive medical application to obtain images of the inside of the human body) Some other applications also have been developed using technologies based on superconductivity.CERN also uses superconductivity in its Large Hadron Collider. The collider, the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator, is used by physicists to study the smallest known particles. In the collider, two beams of particles are travelling in opposite directions and collide at very high energy, with the aim of re creating the conditions just after the Big Bang. It consists of a 27 kilometre ring of superconducting magnets. The central part of the huge magnets used in the collider is made of 7,000 kilometres of superconducting cables, according to the CERN’s website.The press briefing, organised by the University of Geneva and MaNEP, was held at the PhysiScope, a public demo-laboratory operated by MaNEP, and the Geneva University School of Physics. The audience could experience the property of superconductivity hands on, in the midst of liquid nitrogen vapours, used to cool down the experiment tools.The PhysiScope will open its doors in celebration of the centenary of the discovery of superconductivity, according to a schedule posted online. MaNEP and the University of Geneva will have a number of events in autumn to celebrate the centenary, all listed on the website, as will the CERN.International events also will take place throughout 2011.Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)RelatedCatherine Saez may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org."Superconductivity Is Celebrated This Year, Further Work Needed To Tame It" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.