October 12, 2005

Superconductor Industry Person of the Year 2004 Goes to Leaders in High Temperature Superconductor Wire

By: by Mark Bitterman - Superconductor Week


Superconductor Industry Person of the Year 2004
Goes to Leaders in High Temperature Superconductor Wire

Superconductor Week Names Alex Malozemoff and Venkat Selvamanickam to Top International Honor for Work in Applied Superconductivity

Tehachapi , CA , April 25, 2005 - Superconductor Week,the leading publication on superconductor business and technology, announced today that it has named two pioneers in the development of high temperature superconductor (HTS) wire as Superconductor Industry Person of the Year 2004. The industry’s most prestigious international award in the development and commercialization of superconductors goes to Alex Malozemoff, Chief Technical Officer at American Superconductor Corp., and Venkat “Selva” Selvamanickam, Program Manager of Materials Technology at SuperPower, Inc. for their leadership, quality R&D, and advocacy.

“The most important achievements in superconductivity in 2004 were the development of long lengths of second generation (2G) HTS wire and the continued improvement of its electrical performance,” commented Mark Bitterman, Superconductor Week’s Executive Editor. “In naming Dr. Selvamanickam and Dr. Malozemoff jointly as Person of the Year 2004, we call particular attention to the leadership of these two extraordinary scientists in developing 2G HTS wire. Their work in this exceedingly challenging field is setting the pace in the global effort to bring superconductivity to the forefront in addressing the most pressing needs of the 21st century.”

A panel of nine recognized leaders in science, industry, and government in North America, Europe, and Asia selected the winners from dozens of nominations by peers around the world.  Superconductor Week panelist Dr. Donald Gubser, Superintendent of the Materials Science and Technology Division at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory and co-editor of the Journal of Superconductivity commented: “Selva and Alex are leading two of the largest industrial development programs on HTS wires in the world with the vision of establishing HTS power devices as a new industry.”

“It’s been my privilege to work closely with Alex for the past 13 years,” said Greg Yurek, Chief Executive of American Superconductor. “At a time when the world was just waking up to the global industry that HTS would spawn, Alex was already forging ahead to develop the next generation of this technology. Alex’s work, acknowledged by Superconductor Week’s award, has put 2G HTS wire technology well ahead of most expectations, and our manufacturing scale-up is now actively underway.”

Glenn Epstein, President and CEO of Intermagnetics General, SuperPower’s parent company, commented: “Since shortly after the discovery of HTS in 1986, Intermagnetics has invested substantial resources in HTS technology-beginning with the development and production of first generation wire and then moving, with Selva as the chief proponent, to 2G wire more than six years ago. As we approach the advent of commercialization of 2G HTS wire, Intermagnetics is gratified to see Selva’s dedication and leadership recognized by his peers in the industry.”

Dr. Selvamanickam joined Intermagnetics in 1994, where he initiated the company’s 2G wire program. As Program Manager, Materials Technology at Intermagnetics’ subsidiary, SuperPower, Selvamanickam manages all aspects of an $8M/year development program with a staff of thirty scientists, engineers, and technicians. He has published 85 papers on HTS, and has more than 350 citations. In 1996 Selvamanickam received the Presidential Early Career Award from the White House-the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers.

Dr. Malozemoff, AMSC’s Executive Vice President and Chief Technical Officer, joined the company in 1991. He has published 171 papers in magnetism and superconductivity, and is co-discoverer of giant flux creep in HTS, a phenomenon key to superconductor applications. Malozemoff has led AMSC's wire R&D programs, both first and second generation, along with key external collaborations such as the Wire Development Group, bringing together researchers from the National Labs and academia. He also recently was named Distinguished Lecturer for Superconductivity by the IEEE Council on Superconductivity.

Bob Hawsey, Manager for the Superconductivity Program at Oak Ridge National Lab, was instrumental in bringing back the Person of the Year award, which was last granted in 1997. “Recognizing the many individuals driving the global effort to commercialize superconductors is vital,” said Hawsey. “Superconductor Week’s award calls attention to the importance of institutional, industrial, and governmental participation around the world in the development of superconductors. In naming Alex and Selva jointly as Person of the Year, the panel has selected two visionaries who have not only provided leadership to their organizations, but also forged successful external collaborations.”

Hawsey noted that the 2G wire programs of other organizations also made important advances in 2005. “The work being done by Kazuya Ohmatsu’s team at Sumitomo Electric, by Yutaka Yamada’s team at ISTEC, and by Yasuhiro Iijima’s team at Fujikura is exceptional. The successes of each underscore the importance of pursuing multiple technological paths in a global effort to realize the potential of 2G wire.”

Panel of 9 Leaders Selected Winners from Dozens of Nominees

Nominations for the award came from virtually every country with programs in superconductivity. The winner was determined by a panel of nine acknowledged leaders from North America, Europe, and Asia assembled by Superconductor Week.  The selection criteria for the award included leadership, personal achievement, support from peers, and advocacy.

Describing the panel’s deliberations, Bitterman commented: “The final vote was unanimous. The diligence, discernment, and strength of conviction shown by our extraordinary panelists affirms the vital importance of individual achievement in the global effort to develop advanced technology.”

The panelists for Superconductor Week’s Superconductor Industry Person of the Year 2004 were:

  • Jun Akimitsu, Ph.D., Professor and Director of the Center for Advanced Technology, Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo
  • John Clarke, Ph.D., Professor of Physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and Head of the Materials Sciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab
  • Arnaud Devred, Ph.D., CEA/Saclay
  • Donald U. Gubser, Ph.D., Superintendent of the Materials Science and Technology Division at the Naval Research Laboratory and co-editor of the Journal of Superconductivity
  • Herbert C. Freyhardt, Ph.D., Professor at the Institut fuer Materialphysik of the University of Goettingen, and Managing Director of the Center for Applied Materials Development, Goettingen
  • Eiji Muromachi, Ph.D., Director of the Advanced Materials Laboratory and the Superconducting Materials Center at Japan’s National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS)
  • Marina Putti, Ph.D., Professor, Physics Department of the University of Genova and INFM-LAMIA
  • Justin Schwartz, Ph.D., Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Leader, HTS Magnets & Materials Group of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University
  • Harold Weinstock, Ph.D., Air Force Office of Scientific Research Program Manager for Physics and Electronics and Air Force Research Laboratory Fellow at the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

Panelists Call Attention to YBCO Coated Conductor Achievements of 2004

While many companies are working to develop 2G wire, only candidates who received letters of nomination were considered.  Bitterman commented: “In Japan, the four 2G wire programs I know of are doing very good work.  In fact, two of them, ISTEC and Fujikura, have made the greatest achievements to date in terms of wire length and performance.  2G is also being developed in Europe, Korea, and soon, possibly China.  Unfortunately, we did not receive nominations for the leaders of these programs.  We had numerous, very excellent nominations for Alex and Selva.”

Harold Weinstock, added: “It is entirely appropriate to have chosen Selva and Alex as co-recipients of the Superconductor Industry Person of the Year Award for 2004.  Each one of these extraordinary scientists has been the acknowledged technical leader within his own organization in the development of a reel-to-reel technology for YBCO coated conductors.  This technology has resulted in tens of meters of YBCO tape that can carry between 120 to 270 amps per cm width (depending on total length), and the industry is now in a position to apply these tapes to the development of major applications for power transmission, magnets, motors and generators that can operate at or near liquid nitrogen temperature.  The progress achieved by both companies in 2004 is most impressive, and both companies tied for the highest grades in the 2004 U.S. Department of Energy Peer Review on Superconductivity.”

“Both Alex and Selva deserve the prize for their important achievements advancing coated conductor technology in 2004,” said Marina Putti.

“The nomination for Selva was very strong,” said John Clarke.  “No other nominee has received an award from the White House!  At the same time, Alex’s leadership is exemplary   To me, the decision was very clear: Superconductor Week’s Person of the Year Award had to be given jointly to Malozemoff and Selva.”

Herbert Freyhardt added: “I am clearly and strongly in favor of offering the Superconductor Industry Person of the Year Award to Alex and Selva.”

Commenting on the nomination process, Jun Akimitsu said, “Although there was some spirited discussion in determining a winner, I feel we have arrived at the proper conclusion.  I perfectly agree with my colleagues on the panel: Superconductor Week’s Person of the Year Award should go to Alex and Selva.”

"Congratulations on your choices for Alex and Selva as Industry Persons of the Year," said Paul Arendt, Team Manager at the Superconductivity Center at Los Alamos National Lab.  "I believe both individuals are key to coated conductor technology being implemented into the market place in the near future."

Great Potential of HTS Wire is Matched by Serious Challenges

Superconductivity involves two major fields: high temperature (HTS) and low temperature (LTS) superconductors.  LTS was discovered in 1911, and must be cooled to about 4K (-269°C), using liquid helium as a refrigerant.  LTS electronics are being developed for use in medical, communications, computing, and advanced instrumentation applications.  Already highly commercially successful, LTS wire made of Niobium Titanium (NbTi) and Niobium Tin (Nb3Sn), is used in the fabrication of high power magnets for medical, research, science, and industrial processing applications.

In 1986 of a family of ceramics that superconduct at 77K was discovered.  This permits the development of devices that can be cooled using liquid nitrogen, which is both inexpensive and easy to replenish.  HTS materials may provide the basis for large scale applications in electric power transmission and distribution, power quality and storage devices, motors, and generators.  HTS may also offer lower cost or higher performance alternatives for some areas already using LTS materials, such as sensors or ultra high field magnet coil inserts.

“The problem with HTS ceramics, known as perovskites,” explained Bitterman, “is that they are essentially powders, or at best, fine filaments.  As such, they do not form easily into durable, workable materials.  HTS wires were first produced by incorporating BSCCO compounds in a silver matrix, and extruding it to form a wire.  This first generation (1G) wire has been used to demonstrate some of the potential uses of HTS wire.  However, the commercial potential of BSCCO remains extremely limited due to its high cost to manufacture.”

HTS wire under development can conduct almost 150 times the electrical current of copper wires of the same dimensions, and unlike copper, they are 100% efficient.  Conventional generators and transmission lines suffer from a 7 to 11% energy loss.  With the goal of making HTS wire affordable, researchers have developed various methods for coating HTS materials onto cheap metal strips, and slicing these strips to form wire.  It is hoped that this second generation (2G) manufacturing technology will provide cost-effective, high performance HTS wire.

More Endorsements of Venkat “Selva” Selvamanickam

Phil Pellegrino, President of SuperPower, Inc., commented:  “I have had the professional pleasure of working with Dr. Selvamanickam for more than 3 years, since I joined SuperPower as its President in 2001.  In my 34 years in industry, I have never been more inspired by a professional colleague.  Selva is devoted to achieving an extraordinary scientific vision   I believe he will not be deterred in leading the manufacturing scale-up and commercialization of 2G wire-an event that will enable a technological revolution in how electricity is generated, delivered, and ultimately consumed.  Considering that he is still a relatively young man, I expect that Selva's name will be recorded in the annals of technological history along side of such luminaries as Faraday, Maxwell, Tesla, Edison, and Shockley.”

Carl Rosner, President and CEO, CardioMag Imaging and 1997 Person of the Year winner, commented: “An individual like Selva working at the frontiers of HTS technology serves as an inspiration to the many young people aspiring to become scientists and engineers.  Selva is an unassuming yet outstanding individual whose scientific and engineering contributions to the practical development of HTS conductors and technology have already received worldwide attention.  Through broadly-based fundamental understanding of complex materials challenges and equipment innovations, he has effectively demonstrated the superiority of second generation HTS conductors over many years of prior development activities.

"I congratulate SuperconductorWeek for the most appropriate selection of Selva as 2004 Superconductor Industry of the Year,” said Dr. Paul Ching-Wu Chu, Professor of Physics and the T.L.L. Temple Chair of Science at the University of Houston and President of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.  “Selva is one of the best material engineers and managers in the field of high temperature supercondutivity, who has successfully brought together all ingredients necessary for the preparation and commercialization of HTS tapes for large current applications."

Dr. David P. Norton, Professor at University of Florida’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering commented: “Selva has been unrelenting in his advocacy for superconducting technology and technical leadership within SuperPower.  Having been involved in high Tc wire development from its inception, his scientific insight, and perseverance has proven to be a tremendous asset to the community.”

Dr. Paul N. Barnes, Superconductivity Group Leader, Air Force Research Laboratory, commented: “Selva has done a tremendous job advancing the MOCVD coated conductor technology for long length superconducting wire, advancing from centimeter lengths to 100 meters in just a few short years.  He is quite deserving of the Superconductor Industry Person of the Year Award.”

“Selva has provided the scientific innovation and technical leadership necessary to accelerate the commercialization of HTS tapes,” said Dr. Dean Peterson, Center Leader, Superconductivity Technology Center, Los Alamos National Lab.  “All superconductor developers have benefited from his outstanding dedication and effective management skills."

Selvamanickam earned a Ph.D. degree in Materials Engineering and an M.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Houston.  His B.E. degree with Honors was earned at the Regional Engineering College in Tiruchi, India in 1986.

About The Superconductor Industry Person of the Year

The Superconductor Industry Person of the Year is the only international award recognizing individual achievement in the global effort to develop and commercialize both high and low temperature superconductors.  Mark Bitterman, Superconductor Week’s Executive Editor, will present the award’s official plaque to the winners at the CEC/ICMC 2005 conference in Keystone Colorado during the Awards luncheon on Wednesday 31 August.

Superconductor Week last named a Person of the Year in 1997, when Allan Hoffman was the recipient.  Prior recipients include Greg Yurek, Robert Haddon, Carl Rosner, and Sungho Jin.  Going forward, Superconductor Week will institute the award on an annual basis.  A call for nominations for the 2005 Person of the Year will be sent out on September 1, 2005.  To be included in the call for nominations, send your email address to:

About Superconductor Week

Founded in 1987, Superconductor Week is the leading newsletter covering the technology and business of superconductivity.  Subscribers include executives, technologists, officials, and investors in every country developing advanced technologies.  Published 24 times a year, interviews, analysis, and updates provide strategic insight into the development and commercialization of superconductors in medical, electric power, communications, military, transportation, industrial processing, basic science, and other markets.  For more information, visit

For more Information Contact:
Mark Bitterman, Executive Editor, Superconductor Week
Phone: 1-661-821-0773