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Forum Impressions from the ASC 2008

Forum Impressions from the ASC 2008

September 1, 2008 (HE20).  The Applied Superconductivity Conference was held in Chicago, IL (USA), from August  17th to 22nd, 2008.  This is the largest such meeting in the field, worldwide.  About 1600 participants attended, with nearly 1500 abstract initially submitted.  A large fraction of participants came from overseas, especially from Australia and New Zealand, China, Europe and Japan.  Many presentations of foreign (mostly Russian) authors listed in the program, mainly posters, were not presented, unfortunately.  It is likely that the authors’ US entry visas may have not been applied for in time.  The official statistical data of the meeting have not been released to date.

The program listing and abstracts are still accessible at  Of the five plenary talks, we like to first mention the talk by Timothy Antaya (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) on high-field superconducting cyclotrons and synchrocyclotrons.  It combined novelty of largely unpublished impressive progress data with the exciting prospects of applications in various fields such as proton therapy of malignant tumors, and detection of nuclear materials, (security). 

The talk on superconducting radiation/particle detectors coming of age, by Harvey Moseley (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center), provided an excellent overview of this rapidly maturing field of superconductivity application in astronomy and analysis of materials.  The visionary overview of prospects for pollution-free airplane propulsion was given by Cesar Luongo (Florida State Univ.) and a realistic discussion of practical aspects of superconductors in applications by James Bray (GE Global Research).  The fifth and last plenary talk by S.T. Wu (ITER/ASIPP) was devoted to large-scale applications in China.

The radiation/particle detector presentations dominated the Electronics (E) part of the invited and contributed program, which was, as always, grouped into three major sub-fields; the other two are Large Scale Applications (L), and Materials (M).   After several years of diminishing submission numbers, E was represented by over 10% more presentations than at the last ASC 2006.   In L, the interest traditionally concentrated on accelerator magnets, and HTS energy applications such as fault current limiters, rotating machinery, transmission lines and attendant subjects, such as ac losses, for example.  Also papers on MAGLEV, energy storage and magnetic separation were presented.  In M, special interest concentrated on the newly discovered pnictides, to which a special ad hoc organized evening session was devoted (not included in the published program). 

In the regular program, coated HTS conductors (2nd generation) and related problems were heavily represented.  A few memorial sessions were devoted to the life and to the subjects of interest of prominent researches, who passed away between 2006 and 2008.

Obviously, the whole technical program was too vast and varied, with up to 9 parallel oral sessions and hundreds of posters, for us to be able to comment on specific contributions.  This program certainly offered a comprehensive snapshot overview of the status and progress in the whole field of applied superconductivity. 

Although not all the presentations were submitted for publication in the IEEE Transactions on Applied Superconductivity, the issue containing the accepted papers (summer 2009) will have a high archival value.

Following the already established tradition, the IEEE CSC Awards in Superconductivity were presented during the opening plenary session.  The 2008 IEEE CSC Award “for Continuing and Significant Contributions in the Field of Applied Superconductivity” was given to Hisao Hayakawa (E, Nagoya University, retired), Masaki Suenaga (M, Brookhaven National Laboratory) and Akira Yamamoto (L, High Energy Accelerator Research Organization, KEK, of Japan.)  The “2008 IEEE CSC Max Swerdlow Award for Sustained Service to the Applied Superconductivity Community” went to Sir Martin Wood (Oxford Instruments), and James Daley (US Dept. of Energy, retired).  The description of these and other awards, in part with photos of awardees, can be found at  Figure 1 below is a group photo of IEEE CSC awardees, taken at the end of the awards presentation on August 18, 2008.  In Figure 2, Sir Martin Wood shows the first superconducting magnet he wound in 1962.  This photo was taken during his acknowledgement speech at a luncheon in honor of the awardees. We offer our sincere congratulations to all of them! 

Fig. 1.  Group photo of IEEE CSC awardees.  From left to right standing are: J. Spargo, CSC      President, H. Hayakawa, J. Daley, A. Yamamoto, M. Wood, M. Suenaga and M. Nisenoff, CSC Awards Committee.  

Fig. 2. Sir Martin Wood shows the first superconducting magnet he wound in 1962.  
Awards Luncheon of August 18, 2008 at Swissotel, Chicago.

New ASC Board members were elected by general vote of participants.  The newly elected Board members are:
Electronics: Karl Berggren (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) & Catherine A. Kilbourne (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center).
Large-Scale: Kathleen Amm (GE Global Research) & Pascal Tixador (Grenoble INP).
Materials: Judith Louise (MacManus) Driscoll (University of Cambridge) & Lance Cooley (Fermi Lab).
We congratulate all newly elected Board members!

Board Members whose term expired in 2008 are:
Electronics: Jesper Mygind (Technical University of Denmark) & Oleg Mukhanov (Hypres).
Large Scale: Michael Coffey (Cryomagnetics) & Cesar Luongo (Florida State University – NHMFL).
Materials: Judy Wu (University of Kansas) & Peter Lee (Florida State University – NHMFL).

The organizers chose a very suitable facility for holding the conference: the ballrooms and halls of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Chicago.  It provided ample space for both the oral sessions and the posters.  The latter were combined with the exhibit in the same vast hall space.  Switching sessions was easy, because all parallel oral talks were held in relatively close proximity on the same floor level.  The hotel itself is located in the magnificently spruced-up hub of Downtown Chicago at the Chicago River, not far from the shore of Lake Michigan.  The weather cooperated by offering relatively sunny, cool and dry weather until Friday noon, the last day of the conference.   We congratulate the Chairman, U. Balachandran, the Program Chair, J. Kerby, the Vice-Chair L. Cooley and the whole Organizing Committee on this successful meeting!