posted May 29, 2012

NSF Grant Funds Research into Behavior of Superconductors

A three-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) is helping Hope College physicist Dr. Stephen Remillard (pictured) and his student research team explore how superconductors used in electronics might be made even better.

Remillard explained that high-temperature superconductors, discovered in the 1980s, are used in a variety of commercial applications because they are highly efficient in transmitting signals without resistance.  As good as that is, however, he noted that the devices aren’t perfect.

“A limit to high-frequency device applications of superconductors results from the tendency of superconductors to distort the electronic signals,” said Remillard, who is an associate professor of physics.  “This project is seeking an understanding of why superconductors distort signals and to provide insight into how the distortion could be mitigated.”

The $165,000 grant from the NSF will provide support through the summer of 2015.  By the end of the study, Remillard is hoping to have developed a working model for the distortion that can be used as a tool in correcting the problem.  Although the model will be focused on electronics, he’s hoping that it will also be useful in other applications involving superconductors.

Remillard has been conducting research on superconductors for more than 20 years.  He completed his doctorate in experimental solid state physics at the College of William and Mary in 1993, with his thesis on “The Effects of Granularity on the Microwave Surface Impedance of High k Superconductors.”

Through the years he has received a variety of grants in support of his research, including most recently a two-year grant from Research Corporation for an earlier phase of the distortion project.  His work has resulted in a variety of articles published in refereed scientific journals, many co-authored with Hope students who have conducted the research with him.

Remillard has been a member of the Hope faculty since 2007. He had previously held visiting appointments in physics at Grand Valley State University from 2005 to 2007 and Calvin College during the 2004-05 school year. Prior to that he had worked as an industrial physicist, including for nine years at a company specialized in superconducting technology. Since 2002 he has also served as president of Agile Devices Inc., which he founded and is focused on microwave technology.

Remillard graduated from Calvin College in 1988 with a major in physics.  In addition to his doctorate, he also holds a master’s degree in physics from the College of William and Mary.