How Quantum Materials Hold The Key To A New Generation of Superconductors

Current technologies from silicon chips to computer memory to mobile phone displays are all derived from the fundamental quantum properties of materials. Creating novel materials and manipulating their electronic arrangements is the key to harnessing quantum properties at a macro-level for revolutionary technological advances. Suchitra Sebastian, an experimental condensed matter physicist, L’Oréal UNESCO Women in Science Fellow and winner of a 5-year Starting Grant by the European Research Council, is particularly interested in an extraordinary physical phenomenon known as superconductivity. Superconducting materials transport electricity with zero loss, and currently find uses ranging from magnets in MRI machines to particle accelerators in CERN. Suchitra Sebastian is working towards finding novel superconductors that operate at accessible temperature, dramatically increasing their technological applicability. These findings set us firmly on target to discover novel superconductors by design rather than by serendipity – which would open doors to access the enormous potential of these materials and unlock a wide variety of technologies: from lossless electrical transmission to smart electricity grid solutions, from magnetic levitating trains to supercomputers, and from high efficiency wind-turbines to energy storage systems. At Falling Walls, Sebastian speaks about these new findings and the ongoing quest for what has often been termed “the Holy Grail” of materials physics.

Suchitra Sebastian

University of Cambridge

Suchitra Sebastian is a University Lecturer and Royal Society University Research Fellow in Physics at the University of Cambridge. Suchitra moved to the University of Cambridge in 2006 as a Junior Research Fellow in Physics at Trinity College. She received a PhD in Applied Physics from Stanford University, prior to which she obtained an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and a BSc in Physics from the Women’s Christian College, Chennai.
At the University of Cambridge, Suchitra works on various novel correlated materials including unconventional superconductors. She was recently awarded a five year ERC Starting Grant for a research project on unconventional superconductivity from a Mott insulating parent material. She previously received an IUPAP Young Scientist Medal for her research in the area of magnetism, an IOP Moseley Medal for her discoveries in frustrated quantum magnets, heavy fermion systems, and high temperature superconductors, and a L’Oréal-UNESCO Women in Science Fellowship to develop the next generation of superconductors. Suchitra travels extensively to international high field magnet facilities, for which she was awarded an ICAM fellowship.

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