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China Daily: Superconductivity era will speed up changes

来源:China Daily

    

Top scientists awarded $826,000

    Two scientists, nuclear weapons expert Cheng Kaijia and physical chemist Zhang Cunhao, won China’s top science award on Friday for their outstanding contributions to scientific and technological innovation. 

  The pair, both members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, were presented with certificates by President Xi Jinping at an annual ceremony honoring distinguished scientists and research achievements. 

  They each won an award of 5 million yuan ($826,000). 

  Addressing the ceremony, Premier Li Keqiang said, “China has entered a new stage in which the country must rely more on science and technological innovation to guide and support its economic development and social progress.”  

  The nation’s traditional growth pattern, mainly driven by investment, is difficult to sustain, Li said. 

  Eight foreign scientists from Italy, the United States, Germany, Russia and Canada won the International Science and Technology Cooperation Award. 

  Meanwhile, 313 scientific research projects received the 2013 State science and technology awards. 

  One highlight of this year’s awards was that a first-prize winner was found for the State Natural Sciences Award — which recognizes major breakthroughs  in  fundamental research — after a gap of three years. 

  The award was given to the discovery of iron-based high temperature superconductors, a project conducted by scientists from the Institute of Physics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences and other institutions. 

  Superconductivity basically refers to the electrical resistance of a material suddenly being reduced to zero under certain circumstances, said Zhao Zhongxian, a superconductivity physicist and member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. 

  Components made from superconductors can help to improve the accuracy of atomic clocks on satellites, accelerate central processing units on computers, and increase the precision of gyroscopes on navigational devices. 

  “Many excellent scientists contributed to the research on superconductivity in China, and it is hard to tell whether we would have reached this point without any one of them,” Zhao said. “In China, we have a good research tradition on superconductivity, and we have talent of all ages. China has become a rising power in condensed matter physics,” he added. 

  In 2009, the research and compilation of Flora of China, a scientific publication aimed at describing plants native to China, won first prize in the State Natural Sciences Award. 

  The project marked collaborative efforts by Chinese scientists to publish the first modern English language account of some 31,000 important plants and 7,500 species of trees and shrubs. 

    

  Xinhua contributed to this story 

 

Superconductivity era will speed up changes 

 

  There is no doubting the contribution made to everyday life by semiconductors, used mainly as components for radio receivers, televisions and cell phones, over the last 50 years or so. 

  But now physicists can barely contain their excitement over the expected contribution of superconductors. 

  Superconductivity basically refers to the electric resistance of a material suddenly being reduced virtually to zero under certain circumstances, said Zhao Zhongxian, a superconductivity physicist and member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. 

  With components made of superconductors, the accuracy of atomic clocks on satellites will be enhanced, central processing units on computers will be accelerated and the precision of gyroscopes on navigation devices will be increased. 

  Despite the wide range of possible applications for superconductors, physicists, however, once believed that superconductivity could only occur at supercold temperatures — no higher than -233 C. 

  In 2008, Japanese scientist Hideo Hosono achieved a breakthrough with an iron-based superconductor that functions at -247 C. 

  Chinese scientists later discovered even better-performing superconductors.  

  “You might think -218 C is still a very low temperature, but it is relatively ‘warm’ and is already possible for industrial use,” said Wang Nanlin, a researcher from the Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences. 

  “Now a superconducting cable with a diameter of a pen allows transmission of a 10,000-amp current without any loss of electricity.” 

    

  CHENG YINGQ 

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China Daily: Superconductivity era will speed up changes
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