Campus: CSU Long Beach -- September 05, 2001

Cal State Long Beach Physics Professor Awarded $568K Grant From Department of Defense

The Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded Cal State Long Beach and Physics Professor Chuhee Kwon a three-year grant of $568,474, President Robert C. Maxson has announced.

The grant will support a research program to develop a variable temperature scanning laser microscope (VTSLM) as a diagnostic tool for coated conductors.

In addition to covering the cost of equipment, pertinent materials and travel, the grant will allow for up to five undergraduate research scholarships, one postdoctoral fellow and a research fellowship to support three graduate students.

CSULB's proposed research activities are to develop VTSLM and optimize the operation for coated conductors, develop VTSLM in magnetic fields and investigate a room temperature signature for local non-uniformities. The VTSLM system will be a unique instrument in the United States and a useful diagnostic tool to study the spatial distribution of the functional superconducting parameters in coated conductors as well as superconducting devices.

"The main theme of this project is to study high- temperature superconductors," said Kwon. "Super-conductors can carry current without producing any resistance. Power lines now use copper wire, but copper has some resistance so when the current is flowing from the generator to every household it loses power by means of heat. With superconductors there is no loss of current, so we can transfer the same amount of power from the generator to each household."

The main problem with superconductors is that the superconductivity occurs only at extremely low temperatures, like with liquid helium or liquid nitrogen temperature.

"The new high-temperature superconductor is high temperature in a sense because all superconductors were superconducting in liquid helium temperatures, which is much lower," Kwon said. "But this high-temperature superconductor is superconducting in liquid nitrogen temperatures. It's a lot warmer and liquid nitrogen is much more common and affordable than liquid helium. The main issue is not the superconductivity itself, but more on how to cool whole wires."

Among the possible applications, the potential impact of superconducting wires operating at liquid nitrogen temperature is tremendous since the high temperature superconductor can carry extremely high current allowing high energy density power sources and high magnetic field applications that are significantly lighter and more compact than conventional systems as well as more energy efficient.

The main civilian application of high temperature superconductor (HTS) wires is in high electric power applications such as magnets, motors, transformers and transmission lines. The military's interest in the high temperature superconductor is for airborne applications such as the development of directed energy weapons as well as hypersonics.

The award is one of 80 grants totaling $8.843 million given to 66 minority institutions. It represents the final phase of the fiscal 2001 DoD Infrastructure Support Program which helps enhance programs and capabilities at institutions in scientific disciplines critical to national security and the DoD.

The grants were selected from 92 instrumentation and equipment proposals and approximately 150 research proposals submitted to the Army Research Office, the Office of Naval Research and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.


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