On Tuesday 16th September, Dr Michael Sutherland, Fellow of Corpus Christi College Cambridge, spoke to the Scientific Society on the subject of “Superconductivity and the Quantum World”.
He began by discussing the distinctions between the quantum and classical worlds: the shortcomings of classical models, and the iconic double slit experiment, leading to the idea of a wave function. He then moved on to the Schrödinger equation and how it gives rise to atomic orbitals for example. Once this groundwork had been laid, the talk progressed to its key point: superconductors. We learned about Cooper pairs, the strange associations electrons form that allow them to pass through a superconductor with ease, and the ideas of critical temperature and its variance between materials.
We were shown the evolution of superconducting materials over the years, culminating in modern ceramic superconductors. Lastly we were shown some of the current and future applications of superconductors, from the common MRI scanner to the more exotic ideas of quantum computing and its vast capabilities.
The evening concluded with a series of questions, with many staying behind to learn more. Dr Sutherland introduced complex concepts in a way that was accessible to all, culminating in a successful first meeting of the Scientific Society.