Program Overview

When we started brainstorming about the main topics for the 2018 Applied Superconductivity Conference (ASC) program, we identified three central themes. The first theme, quantum information and quantum computing, is a rapidly growing field, with many possibilities that connect with superconductivity. It also comprises a community that the Program Committee felt might receive ASC as a premier meeting venue. The second theme, energy efficiency and development of renewable energy sources, explores some of the most challenging problems facing human society, as well as solutions that could arise from game-changing technologies based on superconductivity. Third, exploration of the universe, is among the most fascinating and open fields of human knowledge, where both particle accelerators and astrophysics experiments define technological challenges that pull the development of superconductors and superconducting applications. The core of the program, its special sessions, and the program flow have been shaped by these themes.

After the announcement of the 2017 Nobel prize in Physics, awarded “for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves“, we were excited by the prospect of offering the ASC stage to Nobel laureates with strong connections to applied superconductivity, and in subjects in line with the main program themes we had identified. We are now proud and honored to announce that the Nobel Laureates Prof. Rainer Weiss (MIT), and Prof. Barry Barish (Caltech), accepted our invitation to be plenary speakers at ASC 2018.

Prof. Barish opens the conference with a discussion that will stimulate our thoughts about large projects, such as particle accelerators, which rely upon superconductivity. Besides being a founder of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), Prof. Barish was the Director of the Global Design Effort for the International Linear Collider (ILC) project, and co-chair of the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel subpanel that developed a long-range plan for U.S. high energy physics back in 2001. Prof. Barish will share his view on linear-collider projects that require superconducting radio-frequency cavities and other large physics and astrophysics projects. The theme of particle accelerators continues on the conference Tuesday, with a special historical session to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1968 BNL Summer Study on Superconducting Devices and Accelerators. Speakers will describe how those original themes, which include superconducting magnets, cryogenics, radio-frequency cavities, and detectors, continue to be relevant for present-day accelerators and envisioned accelerators 50 years into the future.

Prof. Weiss will present the closing conference plenary lecture, which will discuss the history of gravitational waves, the exquisite devices that lead to their detection, and on what we can learn about the universe through them. Leading up to the closing lecture, and continuing the astrophysics theme, a second plenary lecture on the conference Friday will discuss on the search for dark matter axions and their relevance for the formation of the universe. Prof. Yannis Semertzidis, Director of the Center for Axion and Precision Physics Research at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology will give the lecture, and will describe development of very high field superconducting magnets integrated with quantum detectors. In conjunction with these themes, a special session titled Cosmological Applications of Superconductors takes place Friday morning. The organizers describe it as “a journey in space and time, as well as in temperature, that will show us how ambitious scientific targets in cosmology are shaping developments in superconducting technologies.”

The conference energy theme will be represented by the Tuesday plenary talk, by Tabea Arndt (Siemens), who will examine HTS materials as possible enabling technologies for sustainable mobility and energy efficiency in power technology. The theme will be continued by a special session that same day, organized by the International Energy Agency’s Technology Collaboration Program on HTS, which will explore the potential of HTS-based devices to facilitate a transformation towards reliable, resilient, secure, affordable, flexible and efficient energy systems.

The quantum information and quantum computing theme receives focus on the conference Thursday. Prof. Robert J. Schoelkopf, Director of the Yale Quantum Institute, will open with a plenary lecture about The Prospects for Scalable Quantum Computing with Superconducting Circuits, which will focus on the development of superconducting devices for quantum information processing. The discussion will explore revolutionary advances in computing. This keynote plenary presentation will be complemented by a special session during the afternoon, titled Quantum Computing, Information, and Engineering, which will feature invited leaders across geographical and technical disciplines. The session will provide the ASC attendees a comprehensive view of efforts and prospects worldwide.

The conference program on superconducting electronics will additionally have a focus on the 9th Transition-Edge-Sensor (TES) Workshop, successfully held as part of ASC since 2008. The focus track will include a special session dedicated to a Superconductor Electronics Technology Roadmap being developed in the frame of the International Roadmap for Devices and Systems (IRDS), including focus themes on Cryogenic Electronics and Quantum Information Processing.

The list of plenary lecturers includes two additional outstanding representatives of the applied superconductivity community, providing insight on more specific themes. Dr. Peter Lee, from the Applied Superconductivity Center at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, will deliver a lecture on Microstructure-property correlations in superconducting wires, illustrating his pioneering works on the microscopy of superconductors that lead to key developments in wire performance. In these systems, the understanding and characterization of structural and chemical inhomogeneities at the microscopic scale are essential to extend the material limits for the next generation of superconductor applications. Dr. Hideaki Maeda (Japan Science and Technology Agency/RIKEN), will report on the recently started 10-years MIRAI Program in Japan, focused on the development of joining technologies between HTS, a necessary milestone toward the development of super-high field NMR systems. Also focused on the Materials aspects of applied superconductivity, the special session Beyond the Artificial Pinning Centers, dedicated to the great physicist and Nobel Laureate Alexei A. Abrikosov, will present an opportunity to review and stimulate new ideas to improve pinning, and thus application capabilities, of both low- and high-temperature superconductors.

We are pleased to announce that the conference program will add a roundtable discussion, held within the conference Wednesday morning plenary session, on the future of very high field HTS magnets for fusion, accelerators, and science, identified as present and future drivers of superconducting technology advancement. HTS Magnets at the Frontier of Science and Technology will be an informal conversation, moderated by Joe Minervini (MIT), with Prof. Seungyong Hahn (Seoul National University), Dr. Tengming Shen (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory), and Dr. Zach Hartwig (MIT), where the involvement and contribution of the audience to the discussion will be of paramount importance to stimulate new ideas and include all perspectives.

Last for this program overview, but certainly not least, the traditional ASC plenary setting will give some space to young and promising scientists in the superconductivity field. Candidates nominated by the ASC Program Committee and selected by a committee of specialists will have 5 minutes to present a new idea, physics breakthrough, or eye-opening perspective that they are working on.

All this was made possible only by the constant support and strong effort by all Program Committee and Board of Directors members, particularly by the outstanding group of sub-chairs; by the IEEE Council on Superconductivity; and by Centennial Conferences. But we emphasize that the success and the beauty of this conference cannot but be the fruit of the almost 1650 contributions that scientists and engineers from every part of the world have chosen to provide, with all stimulating discussion and new ideas that will span from these.

Luigi Muzzi and Lance Cooley
ASC 2018 Program Chairs