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Solving the mystery of superconductivity

Yong Chu: a man looks inside a tube.

At the legendary 1987 American Physical Society conference, sometimes called the “Woodstock of physics”, thousands of physicists descended upon a New York Hilton ballroom to hear about the discovery of high-temperature superconductivity (HTS) in ceramic materials.  The world was intrigued with possibilities of magnetically levitated trains and bulk power storage.  There was excitement and great hope in the world of condensed-matter physics research.

After decades of controversy, many competing theories, and several Nobel prizes later, the vision presented in the ballroom that night is beginning to emerge. DOE researchers and their collaborators are utilizing new technologies to make significant progress solving the HTS mystery. Some of the leading HTS theories are being challenged by using cutting-edge x-ray scattering techniques to discover hidden magnetic waves in high-temperature superconductors and additional breakthroughs are anticipated when DOE’s National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II) begins operation promising unprecedented energy resolution. The string-theory holographic principle is one of the new conceptual tools being used to study HTS electrons.  Electron spectroscopy with...

Related Topics: Brookhaven, HTS, National Synchrotron Light Source II, superconductivity, X-Ray Nanoprobe, OSTI Homepage


Keeping the lights on

New York City skyline at nightfall.


On August 14, 2003, a software bug at a utility company brought New York City to its knees, and the resulting cascading effect ultimately forced the shutdown of more than 100 power plants (read more). Approximately 50 million people in 8 U.S. states and Canada experienced the worst blackout in North American history.

Research has been ongoing at the Department of Energy to improve our electrical grid’s reliability to ensure history is not repeated. Dr. William Watson, Physicist, OSTI staff, details in his latest white paper In the OSTI Collections: Keeping Power Grids Stable how DOE researchers are using data-based simulations, mathematically analyzing power grid behavior, improving energy storage, and working to understand the effects of transient power changes caused by devices connected to the grid so that we can avoid power grid instability and keep the lights on.

Related Topics: blackout, Dr. William Watson, energy, lights, North American, power grids, power plants, OSTI Homepage