A promising study at Hope College focused on the physics of superconductors has received a third multi-year external grant.

Dr. Stephen Remillard of the college’s physics faculty has received a three-year, $181,274 research grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for his on-going investigation of the distortion of microwave frequency electrical signals in superconducting devices—work with implications for equipment ranging from cell phones to MRI scanners.

“We’re looking at how the electrical signals are distorted by the superconductors,” said Remillard, who is an associate professor of physics and chairperson of the department.  “Distortion can be good.  For example, superconducting transistors operate on distortion on purpose.  But it can also be a disadvantage, and understanding how it happens is a key step in mitigating it when it’s a problem.”

“Investigation into how distortion functions also reveals the physics of superconductors.  We can better understand what makes superconductors work,” he said.

The new grant follows a three-year grant from the NSF in 2012 and a previous two-year award from Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA).

Remillard has been conducting research on superconductors for more than 25 years.  He and his team of undergraduate-student researchers have been investigating distortion since 2007, the year that he joined the Hope faculty.

He and his team conduct the research full-time during the summer and part-time during the school year.  A total of 14 students have worked with him on the research during his time at the college, half from Hope and half from other institutions, the latter supported through external funding designed to provide opportunities for others to participate in strong summer programs such as Hope’s.  Several of the students have participated in professional conferences and been co-authors on papers published in professional journals regarding the research.

Before joining the Hope faculty, Remillard 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 and director of engineering, including for nine years at a company specialized in superconducting technology.

He graduated from Calvin College in 1988 with a major in physics.  He holds a master’s degree in physics from the College of William and Mary, and a doctorate in experimental solid state physics, also from the College of William and Mary.