Materials scientists work at the interface between the demands of engineers for materials to satisfy their practical, in service requirements and the physics and chemistry of materials that control the fundamental limits of what a material can actually do. Some materials are easy to work with and process, but nature normally decides that materials with the most impressive performance (electrical/mechanical/superconducting) are extremely difficult to process with the correct microstructure and hence properties.
This talk will introduce two areas of recent interest in the Materials Department where we have been asked fundamental materials questions by our colleagues and partners in industry. The first on how to make resistance-free joints in high temperature superconducting wire and the second on how to predict the lifetime of high temperature superconducting windings in the magnets that contain a fusion plasma in a magnetic bubble. In both cases the superconducting community can learn a lot from other fields that may have been exploring similar issues in different classes of materials.