Bozidar Mitrovic, left, and Fereidoon Razavi joined forces with the late Frans Koffyberg to be the first in Canada to prove the existence of high-Tc superconductors.It was one of the biggest advancements in physics in years, and Brock was a part of it.The high-Tc superconductor – which is composed of a compound of the metals barium, lanthanum, copper andoxygen – meant that energy could be conducted in a faster, easier and less expensive way than it had previously. Twenty-five years ago, its existence was postulated in a paper published by Swiss researchers from IBM’s Zurich laboratory who went on to win the Nobel Prize in Physics.But Brock researchers were the first in Canada, and the second in the world, to prove that it worked.Mitrovic, Razavi and Koffyberg in 1986More than two decades later, Professors Fereidoon Razavi and Bozidar Mitrovic, who still work at Brock, remember the discovery well. They did it alongside Professor Frans Koffyberg, who had attracted the funding and equipment required to do the research. Razavi encountered the Swiss article in the James A. Gibson Library in early December. The trio knew that the rest of the physics world would be racing to produce a superconductor.They worked through the Christmas break of 1986-87, shivering in the closed university in a rush to produce and publish. They submitted their paper to the prestigious journal Physical Review hours after the IBM team. Their work was groundbreaking enough that it was not only published in the journal, but cited in the Nobel Prize lecture. It was a pivotal moment for the young Physics department of a 23-year-old university.High-Tc superconductors are widely used today, such as in the powerful magnets of Magnetic Resonance Imagers (MRIs), or in the electrical distribution systems inside nuclear-powered submarines. Such flexibility in application was difficult to achieve for traditional superconducting wires, made from brittle metal alloys that must be cooled to 20 degrees absolute (-253 degrees Centigrade or -423 degrees Fahrenheit) using helium, which is costly and difficult to handle. High-Tc superconductors solve this problem. In the Physics lab, the professors produced a metallic compound that put the Swiss theory into action.The professors look back fondly on the discovery and the rush of inspiration it brought. When Mitrovic, a Yugoslavian-born scientist, was a post-doctoral researcher at Stony Brook University on Long Island, a professor advised him “When someone shows you interesting results, be prepared to drop whatever you’re doing.” Mitrovic now dispenses the same advice.“If you have a feeling you can contribute,” Mitrovic said, “it’s important to set aside what you’re doing and do it.”The late Koffyberg, a Brock professor from to 1965 to 1993, felt the same way.“When you have something this hot, you drop everything,” he said in a 1987 media release.Mitrovic, who joined Brock in 1983, continues to research superconductivity and teaches astronomy and quantum mechanics. He won a Faculty Award for Excellence in teaching at the Spring 2011 Convocation. Razavi, a Tehran-born scientist, received government funding in 2010 for “The Physical Property Management System for research on electronic and magnetic properties of materials and thin films of compounds.” He teaches electromagnetism, experimental physics and condensed matter physics.Their contribution is worth commemorating, said Ed Sternin, chair of Physics. It was one of the first papers produced by Brock researchers that had a worldwide impact.“In the words of Professor Mitrovic, it is rare that one comes so close to the frontier of science,” he said. “I’m proud that it happened here.”
Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedGuyanese fears of rigged elections valid – Opposition LeaderSeptember 17, 2018In “latest news”New presidential candidate brings youth, financial skills to table – JagdeoJanuary 20, 2019In “latest news”Sovereignty of people case: Jagdeo assuages public concerns, will remain PPP’s GS regardless of outcomeJune 23, 2018In “latest news” With more than three years left before the next general elections in Guyana, the Opposition has made known its intention to get the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU)/Alliance For Change (AFC) coalition Government out of office when Guyanese head to the polls in 2020.While making several points about the perceived weaknesses of the current administration, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo argued that Guyanese from all walks of life are not pleased with the performance of the Government, and these people are not just supporters of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP).Jagdeo claimed that many people who voted for the new Government are now regretting their decision and have openly expressed how they feel about their performance in several areas. He said the “good life” which was promised is nowhere close to being realised and Guyanese are cognisant of that fact.The former Head of State who is also General Secretary of the PPP, made these remarks on Sunday while addressing a large crowd of supporters at a public meeting at Leonora, West Coast Demerara.He said that while the PPP recognises that their support base is mainly people of Indo-Guyanese origin, there is also large support from the first peoples of Guyana – the Amerindians.However, Jagdeo observed that the party has had trouble in attracting a large support base in Afro-Guyanese communities because it has been often peddled by their opponents that the party is racial.But the Opposition Leader claimed that it is far from the truth because the PPP is a multi-cultural party whose members come from all races in Guyana, including those from the Afro-Guyanese community.While claiming that the 2015 election was not fair, Jagdeo said the PPP was defeated only by 4,500 votes. “We are going to take this country back. One year later, at Local Government elections, we swept the polls with 28,000 votes. But they didn’t say anything about that. If we go to the polls now there would be 50,000 difference (more votes),” Jagdeo confidently boasted during the public meeting.He said Government officials are claiming that the Americans are on their side and have guaranteed them 10 years in office but he knows that is “not true because I have spoken to the people.”Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo addressing the public meeting at Leonora, West Coast Demerara on SundayFurther, the former President claimed that the Government’s plan for sugar could be an attempt to get people to migrate, but promised supporters that the PPP will get the APNU/AFC coalition out of office.Jagdeo was critical of the Government for removing the $1.67 billion grant for school children, stating that write-off for tax companies could have been used to keep that subsidy instead.He also referenced the removal of subsidies for electricity and water from 44,000 pensioners, claiming that the Government is not spending money where it is needed.The APNU/AFC narrowly won the 2015 general elections, securing 206,817 votes while the PPP accumulated 201,457 votes, a difference of 5,360 votes.The coalition’s gain created a devastating loss for the PPP which held political power for over 23 years.The PPP’s grip on political power was strong until the 2011 General and Regional Elections when it lost parliamentary control. A few years before the 2015 election, President Donald Ramotar, ruled Guyana in a minority government.The APNU/AFC secured 33 seats in the Eleventh Parliament of Guyana, while the PPP received 32 seats.