We expect that the size of this research area will reduce as a proportion of the EPSRC portfolio by the end of the Delivery Plan. Researchers from the Superconductivity community have diversified their interests and many now work on research captured by other areas. For example, Condensed Matter - Electronic Structure includes research on correlated electron systems, which requires a similar range of expertise as Superconductivity research.
This diversification has seen a reduction in proposals for research related specifically to the Superconductivity research area and we expect to see a continuation of this trend as an increasing number of researchers investigate the uses of superconducting materials. We will monitor this trend and refresh it in the light of any significant developments. The last two years, for example, have seen substantial developments in the field of Superconductivity globally and we will continue to keep the latest developments under review and assess how they should shape our approach going forward.
Over the course of this Delivery Plan:
- We will continue to support researchers working on the fundamental physics of superconducting materials, on new materials opportunities opened up by the recent increases in Tc and on problems such as the origins of high-temperature Superconductivity
- We will encourage links with those looking to utilise superconducting materials
- We will encourage members of the community working on superconducting quantum devices to be responsive to changes in the global quantum technology landscape. This will maximise opportunities for impact from the use of superconducting devices in new quantum technologies.
Researchers in this area have strong links to those in areas such as Condensed Matter - Electronic Structure, Condensed Matter - Magnetism and Magnetic Materials, and Spintronics. There are also links with Electrical Motors and Drives/Electromagnetics, while an increase in interest in Superconductivity in 2D materials means there are growing links with the Graphene and Carbon Nanotechnology research area (Evidence source 1,2).
This community has made good use of large-scale facilities such as Diamond Light Source, the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source and high magnetic field facilities to deliver important work on Superconductivity materials (especially iron pnictides and cuprates) (Evidence source 3,4).
Researchers in this field are able to contribute to the potential future use of superconducting electric motors in the aerospace industry (Evidence source 5), as well as to improve superconducting magnets for incorporation in smaller, cheaper magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners (Evidence source 6). This research area is also well-placed to contribute to the quantum technologies community through the development of superconducting qubits (Evidence source 7).
The current community structure provides an appropriate balance of training and development opportunities across career stages, as well as providing skills for delivering high-quality research.
This research area relates to all four of the Prosperity Outcomes, particularly to the following Ambitions within Productive, Connected, Resilient and Healthy Nation:
P1: Introduce the next generation of innovative and disruptive technologies
This area can contribute to the development of superconducting components in electric motors and to the development of new quantum technologies.
C1: Enable a competitive, data-driven economy
This area can contribute to development of new quantum technology-based methods for data processing.
R1: Achieve energy security and efficiency
Superconducting magnets can contribute to wind turbines and other energy-generating devices, as well as provide highly efficient transfer of electricity. (Evidence source 8)
H4: Develop future therapeutic technologies
Superconducting magnets play a vital role in MRI scanners. New superconducting materials could lead to smaller, cheaper scanners.
- J. Chapman et al, (2016), Nature Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 23254
- 'Decorated graphene is a superconductor', physicsworld.com, 2015
- Diamond Light Source Ltd, Review 2015/16 (PDF), (2016).
- ISIS Neutron and Muon Source, Annual Review 2015 (PDF), (2015).
- The Economist, Future Aircraft: Electrifying Flight, (2015).
- Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), Cryogenic Impact Report (PDF), (2015).
- UK National Quantum Technologies Programme (UKNQTP), Roadmap for Quantum Technologies in the UK (PDF), (2015).
- SUPRAPOWER (SUPerconducting, Reliable, lightweight And more POWERful offshore wind turbine) Framework Programme 7 project.