UAB awarded funds for superconductor research

NSF funding will support study of 3D-printed alloy options

Yogesh Vohra, left, and Cheng-Chien Chen of the University of Alabama at Birmingham will research superconductors.

Two University of Alabama at Birmingham physics professors have been awarded a  $456,786 grant to research methods and materials to improve superconductors.

Yogesh Vohra and Cheng-Chien Chen will work to develop a 3D-printed, high-entropy superconductor that could create a stronger magnetic field than current superconductors.

“Superconductors play a vital role in various sectors of the United States’ economy, including energy transmission, medical imaging, magnetically confined plasma for fusion energy generation and high-speed transportation, as well as quantum computing and information technology,” Vohra said. “The fundamental understanding of unique microstructures in 3D-printed highly robust superconductors will allow us to generate high magnetic fields, which is of utmost importance for magnets used in medical imaging applications.”

Traditional alloys are made by adding an extra element to a single base like iron, nickel or cobalt. High-entropy alloys are made by combining equal amounts of five or more elements.

UAB is a good choice for this research, Vohra says, because of its experience in testing materials under pressure. “UAB has developed designer diamond technology for conducting electrical and magnetic measurements on materials under high pressures and low temperatures and that will be crucial for studies on alloy superconductors,” Vohra said.

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In May, the program was designated a U.S. Department of Energy Center of Excellence for its ability to test materials under extremes of pressure and temperature.

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