UBC research takes a quantum leap forward

Mere decades ago, the Internet emerged full of limitless possibilities and as-yet-unimagined potential. No one quite knew what it might become—only that its future looked promising.

Welcome to the world of quantum materials at The University of British Columbia, where researchers are emerging as global leaders in the hunt for materials that could trigger a technical revolution to rival the Industrial Revolution.

Just as silicon transformed the microelectronics industry, quantum materials are set to transform existing industries in areas such as information processing, nanoelectronics, medicine and sustainable medicine. And they may well spawn totally new industries.

UBC’s Quantum Matter Institute, and the prestigious, state-of-the-art Max Planck–UBC Centre for Quantum Materials partnership have attracted some of the top quantum materials research scientists and students from around the world.

Our researchers have made pioneering contributions to the field:  original ideas and proof‐of‐principle experiments that have spurred new ways of thinking, launched new experimental methods, and led to new materials with unprecedented properties.

​One such internationally recognized advance is in the understanding of superconductors which, unlike today’s conductors, allow electricity to flow without resistance. This could have many applications, such as smarter and speedier computers, able to process intensely complex problems—to name just one. Until now, however, superconductors have only functioned at extremely low temperatures—like minus-150 Celsius—rendering them completely impractical for everyday use.

Dr. Andrea Damascelli leads a team of international scientists that recently made a breakthrough in our understanding of some of the common principles of superconductors. The team’s findings, published in Science in December 2013, could lead to the creation of a superconductor that works at a much higher temperature, and one day even at room temperature.

 

 

As quantum materials research advances, we are learning how to control the properties of the new materials we discover.  With this comes the prospect of a whole new world of technical possibilities. Levitating vehicles might just be closer than you think.

UPDATE: in July 2015, UBC’s Quantum Matter Institute received a $66.5 million investment over seven years from the new Canada First Research excellence fund

Quantum matter research at UBC is supported by multiple funders including the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Canada Research Chairs program, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the BC Knowledge Development Fund and Western Economic Diversification Canada.

 

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