PHYS 498 SQD :: Physics Illinois :: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Course Description

Course Objectives

The purpose of this course is to provide an introduction to the phenomena exhibited by superconductors and superconductor electronic devices and an understanding of the physical principles underlying their behavior.  Superconductors have a long history as important test systems for studying fundamental aspects of many-body and quantum physics.  They also offer unique technological opportunities for analog and digital electronics that have been successfully developed in a few cases, but are still largely unrealized.   The discovery of the high temperature superconductors focussed the world's attention on these materials and accelerated research efforts on superconductivity and superconductor devices dramatically.  My intent is to present a mixture of experimental results, theoretical calculations, physical models, and descriptions of practical devices designed to give a solid background for understanding superconductor materials and the operation, uses, and application of superconductor electronic devices. 

In trying to identify the mechanism of the new superconductors and to develop applications for them, it is essential to be aware of the properties of classic (conventional) superconductors, the models that have successfully described them, and the manner in which they have been incorporated into superconductor devices.  Thus, the primary emphasis will be on conventional superconductivity, although unique properties of other superconductor material classes will be mentioned as we go along.  At the same time, the focus will be on the physics of superconductor devices, although we will also survey some of the primary designs, performance characteristics, and scientific and technological applications of practical superconductor circuits.

Course Content

The course will be roughly divided into three sections, as indicated on the Course Syllabus:

(1)  Basic superconductivity --- a description of the physical properties of superconductors and a review of theories used to describe their behavior.  The primary emphasis will be on conventional (classical) superconductors, but we will also cover some aspects of exotic superconductor materials such as the high temperature cuprate, heavy fermion, magnetic, and organic superconductors.

(2)  Tunneling and the Josephson effect --- a comprehensive study covering both single particle (quasiparticle) and pair (Josephson) tunneling.  Besides the phenomena and the basic physics involved, we will study the important role that tunnel junctions have played as a probe of the properties of superconducting materials, as test systems for investigation of fundamental phenomena in condensed matter physics, and as the key building block of superconductor electronic devices such as the SQUID.

(3)       Superconductor electronic devices --- the operation and applications of superconductor detectors and circuits in both scientific research and technology.  We will cover devices based on quantum interference (SQUIDs), quasiparticle tunneling (detectors), the Josephson effect (digital electronics, oscillators, voltage standards), and vortex dynamics.  The focus will be on the design, operation, and performance of such devices, the materials and microfabrication requirements, and the progress and prospects for superconductivity in analog, digital, and quantum electronic applications.

Academic integrity

The giving of assistance to or receiving of unauthorized assistance from another person, or the use of unauthorized materials during University Examinations can be grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including expulsion from the University.

Please be aware that prior to or during an examination the instructional staff may wish to rearrange the student seating. Such action does not mean that anyone is suspected of inappropriate behavior.

All activities in this course, including documentation submitted for petition for an excused absence, are subject to the Academic Integrity rules as described in Article 1, Part 4, Academic Integrity, of the Student Code.