December 15, 2009

Wire & Cable Technology International Proudly Presents The Fifth WCTI Technical Achievement Awards, Class Of 2009

By: by Traute F. Lehner, SuperPower


Nominated for their contribution to the development and transition to manufacturing of "second-generation" high-temperature superconductor (2G HTS) wire, are Dr. Venkat Selvamanickam and John Dackow, both of SuperPower, Inc., Schenectady, NY, USA.

SuperPower has been involved in the development of HTS wire since 1988 as part of the technology development organization at the then Intermagnetics General Corporation. The SuperPower subsidiary was formed in 2000 to focus all of its efforts on 2G HTS wire development and scaleup to commercialization under the leadership of Dr. Venkat Selvamanickam. SuperPower is now a subsidiary of Royal Philips Electronics since that company's 2006 acquisition of Intermagnetics.  In late 2008, John Dackow joined the company to lead the wire manufacturing program from an R&D focus to an operational focus.

Under the leadership of Selvamanickam, SuperPower has scaled the technology from the inchlong segments proven in research-scale equipment back in 2000, to mile-long wire lengths routinely produced today and sold around the world on a commercial basis today.

Dr. Selvamanickam joined Intermagnetics in 1994 and was instrumental in establishing the SuperPower subsidiary in March 2000, initially as Program Manager, Materials Technology, where he led a team of more than 40 scientists, engineers and technicians engaged in scaling up to manufacture SuperPower's 2G HTS wire, and then as Vice President and Chief Technology Officer.  Now M. D. Anderson Chair Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Houston, Selvamanickam is today Chief Technology Advisor at SuperPower. 

Since joining Intermagnetics, Selvamanickam created and led the second-generation HTS wire program. He built a team of more than 40 high performance personnel and led the company to multiple word firsts and records in 2G HTS wires.  He led the completion of the world's first significant delivery (10,000 m) of 2G HTS wire to build a 30 m cable for the DOE Flagship program of Albany Cable Project, which is the world's first demonstration of a thin film superconducting cable in the electric power grid. He also developed a unique MOCVD process and equipment to control vapor phase reaction, phase equilibria and growth kinetics to achieve superior electrical performance including world-records for the highest critical current at several length scales as well as the fastest superconductor deposition process. 

Selvamanickam also engineered nano-defects and self assembly into thin films to enhance flux pinning and achieved world record for the highest magnetic field at 77 K in coils made with oxide superconductors.  He developed thin film processing techniques for hetero-epitaxial growth of complex oxide materials such as perovskites, fluorites, bixbyites, pyrochlores and rock-salts, by ion beam sputtering, magnetron sputtering, E-beam evaporation and metal organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD). He also developed technologies to fabricate single crystalline-like films on flexible, polycrystalline substrates over length scales of more than a kilometer.

John Dackow joined SuperPower as Director of Operations. At SuperPower, his responsibilities include management of the entire manufacturing operation. As the business has transitioned from R&D to manufacturing, his years of experience in management and technical manufacturing positions have enabled him to instill an operational mindset that has enabled the cultural and physical transition to broad-scale commercialized production.  Under Dackow's leadership, SuperPower's manufacturing organization of more than 40 technicians, engineers and scientists has been restructured into a work cell concept with cross-functional capabilities and responsibilities. Also, a change in focus from Quality Control to Quality Assurance in every process step has been achieved. 

In its third year of commercial production, the steps implemented by Dackow have enabled SuperPower to attain year-over-year improvements in wire production, yield and performance, thereby resulting in significant inroads into commercial sales of this new, cutting-edge technology.

Most recently, Dackow spent five years as Director of Operations at SuperPower's parent company, Intermagnetics/ Philips, overseeing manufacturing operations in the production of LTS superconducting magnets used in medical magnetic resonance imaging systems. Prior to this, he spent 25 years with Ingersoll-Rand in a variety of assignments around the world.

WCTI Technical Achievement Awards are given out annually to individuals in the wire and cable industry who have been responsible for major technical developments related to equipment, materials or accessories for making wire and cable. The awards honor individuals responsible for major practical technical developments that have improved the way wire and cable is made, processed or performs. Award recipients have been selected from nominations made to this magazine. We reviewed the nominations, consulted outside advisors when necessary and made the final decisions. Also, there is no time limit on when a nominee's technical development was made-it could have been in the last year, several decades ago or anywhere in between.  Also, there is not a minimum or maximum number of awards granted each year. Class of 2010 nominations should be submitted to this magazine by October 1, 2010.

November 2009/Wire & Cable Technology International