Superconductors are not just for MRI | Institute of Continuing Education skip to content


The discovery of the so-called High Temperature Superconductors in 1987, which are able to conduct very high electrical currents and hence generate extremely high magnetic fields at liquid nitrogen temperatures, was heralded as the most significant scientific breakthrough since the discovery of the transistor. This talk describes in a substantially non-mathematical way the properties of these remarkable materials, their manufacture and their potential for engineering applications, which include frictionless bearings, energy storage systems, MRI and high field permanent magnets.

About the speaker

David Cardwell studied Physics at the University of Warwick between 1980 and 1986, graduating with a BSc in 1983 and a PhD in 1987. He joined Plessey Research (Caswell) on completing his PhD prior to moving to Cambridge in 1992. He is currently Professor of Superconducting Engineering in the Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge, where he leads the Bulk Superconductivity Research Group.

His research focuses on superconductors - materials which, when cooled, can carry an electrical current without losing energy, unlike standard conductors such as copper wire. At the moment up to 10% of electrical energy is lost in transit before it reaches the user. Recently, Dr Cardwell and his team has made a breakthrough in the manufacture of high-temperature superconducting materials. This could be used to protect the National Grid as well as revolutionise the production of MRI scanners.

About the Madingley Lectures

The Madingley Lectures take place at Madingley Hall, home of the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education (ICE). This lecture series, given by eminent speakers across a wide range of subjects, is an important part of ICE's commitment to public engagement.

Event date

Monday, 11 May, 2015 - 19:00


Madingley Hall
CB23 8AQ