What's So Super About Superconductivity?
Distinguished Physicist To Explain
March 6, 2000
High Temperature Superconductivity will be the topic of the 2000 Charles A. Reynolds Distinguished Lecture in Physics on Friday, March 10, in the Gant Science Complex, Room P38, starting at 4 p.m.
Paul Chu, director of the Texas Center for Superconductivity, professor of physics, and T.L.L. Temple Chair of Science at the University of Houston, will speak on "What is so Super about High Temperature Superconductivity."
Superconductivity is the property of some materials to conduct electricity without resistance. This property was first noted at very low temperatures - just a few degrees above absolute zero - by Kammerlingh Onnes in Holland in 1911.
Since then, scientists - including Chu - have been searching for materials that become superconducting at higher temperatures, with an ultimate goal of achieving superconductivity at room temperature.
The field has enormous implications for the conservation of energy and for improved efficiency of any device that uses electricity. The research is finding growing applications in a wide variety of technologies, including high speed levitated trains in Japan.
In 1987, Chu and his colleagues achieved stable superconductivity at 93 degrees Kelvin (K), above the boiling temperature of liquid nitrogen (77K). Recently, they again observed stable superconductivity at a new record high temperature of 164K by applying high pressure to a mercury compound.
Chu holds a B.S. degree in physics from Cheng-Kung University in Taiwan, an M.S. from Fordham University, N.Y., and a Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego. He has been working at the University of Houston since 1979. He also has worked at Bell Laboratories, N.J., and has served as a consultant and visiting staff member at Los Alamos National Lab, the Marshall Space Flight Center, Argonne National Lab and DuPont.
Chu's work has resulted in more than 400 published papers in refereed journals. His numerous awards include the National Medal of Science, the International Prize for New Materials, the World Cultural Council Medal of Scientific Merit, and the Award of Excellence in Scientific Accomplishment (World Congress on Superconductivity). In 1990 he was selected the Best Researcher in the United States by U.S. News & World Report.
He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Beijing), among others, and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He also is a member of the board of directors of the Council on Superconductivity for American