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.


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