Physics Colloquium: Chandra Varma, One hundred and eleven years of superconductivity
Distinguished Professor Emeritus
Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of California Riverside, Riverside, CA
One hundred and eleven years of superconductivity
Superconductivity was discovered in 1911 in Leiden and since then thousands of metals and their compounds have shown the phenomena. Understanding the phenomena became one of the prime occupations of the leading theoretical physicists of the times. The microscopic theory of the phenomena began only in 1957 through the work of Bardeen, Cooper and Schrieffer and the fundamentals could be said to be all understood when Josephson predicted his effect. The new concepts that the theory has given rise to are perhaps the most remarkable development in Science since the discovery of Quantum-mechanics. Then thirty-five years ago, superconductivity at temperatures an order of magnitude higher than previous materials was discovered in the Cuprate family of compounds raising new questions and hopes for the basis of a new technology. I will explain the basic concepts developed in understanding superconductivity both new and old in a very simple and non-technical fashion.