Leadership in superconductors recognised

8 July 2021
Amalia Ballarino

Amalia Ballarino of CERN has received the 2021 James Wong Award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) for her significant and continuing contributions in the field of superconducting materials. The IEEE citation recognises her for: “leading successful R&D programs that establish a winning role for high temperature and MgB2 superconductors in accelerator applications; piloting the development of MgB2 wire suitable for cabling and its incorporation into a multi-kA power transmission system operating at 25 K, and directing the project to industrialise eight such systems for which over 1000 km of wire have been produced; promoting fruitful cooperation between research and industry; and launching R&D activity based on the use of superconductors (Nb-Ti, Nb3Sn, MgB2 and high-temperature superconductors) for future particle accelerators.

Ballarino was responsible for the several-thousand current leads that power the superconducting magnets of the LHC, including those based on the high-temperature superconductor BSCCO-2223, which have been the first large-scale commercial application of high-temperature superconductors. She was awarded Superconducting Week’s “Superconductor Industry Person of the Year 2006” for the development. Following work on the commissioning of the LHC, Ballarino proposed cold-powering systems that use high-current MgB2 transfer lines for feeding the new superconducting magnets of the High-Luminosity LHC (HL-LHC). She started a collaboration with industry to develop the conductor in the form of wire suitable for cabling. The wire has been successfully delivered to CERN in large quantities, while the cold-powering systems have been developed and qualified and they are now being industrialised.

CERN is home to more winners than any other institution

Ballarino joined CERN as PhD student. She is section leader in CERN’s magnets, superconductors and cryostats group and, as from January 2021, deputy group leader. The IEEE cited her service to the community as lecturer, member of program committees for international conferences, and technical editor and reviewer of papers for scientific journals. “In my opinion, this recognition has been a long time in coming,” says Bruce Strauss, past president and treasurer of the IEEE council on superconductivity.

The IEEE James Wong Award (formally named “Award for Continuing and Significant Contributions in the Field of Applied Superconductivity” until 2013) comes with a $5000 honorarium and a pure-niobium medal. It has been granted annually by the IEEE council on superconductivity since 2000, and CERN is home to more winners than any other institution, with Daniel Leroy, Lucio Rossi, Herman ten Kate, Robert Aymar, Arnaud Devred and Luca Bottura recognised in previous years.

Ballarino will receive the award during the MT27 International Conference on Magnet Technology in November.


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