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UH Researcher Recognized for Technical Achievements

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Lindsay Lewis
Selvamanickam
Selvamanickam

Selvamanickam honored by Wire & Cable Technology International

For contributions to the development and commercialization of second-generation high temperature superconducting wire, Venkat Selvamanickam, M.D. Anderson Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Houston, has been honored with a 2009 Wire & Cable Technology International Technical Achievement Award.

Given annually to individuals in the wire and cable technology industry, the honor recognizes those who make major technical developments related to equipment, materials and accessories for making cable and wire.

“I am honored to receive this award on behalf of a strong technology development team that created numerous innovations to transition lab-scale research to manufacturing,” Selvamanickam said.

Before joining UH in 2008, Selvamanickam led a 40 member research team at SuperPower Inc. to scale up second-generation high temperature superconducting wire from inch-long segments utilized in research equipment to mile-long lengths commercially available around the world today.

One of his many accomplishments includes the completion of a 30 meter superconducting cable for a U.S. Department of Energy flagship program known at the Albany Cable Project, marking the first time a thin film-based superconducting cable was utilized in an electric power grid.

Superconducting cables generally transmit five to ten times more power than conventional copper cables, ultimately enabling more power delivery to densely populated areas. They can also transmit power over long distances with minimal energy lost during transmission.

Selvamanickam’s team developed high-performance thin film superconducting wires, which can transmit 200 times more power than equivalent-sized copper wires.

Using a unique metal organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) process, Selvamanickam and his team made advancements in materials science, process control and equipment design that led to the superior and uniform electrical performance of superconducting wire over long lengths.

“Our progress with MOCVD has enabled the fastest superconductor deposition process yielding multiple-world records for wire performance at several length scales," he said. "It is the only process in the world that has been successfully used to fabricate kilometer-long, thin film-based superconductor wires."

Selvamanickam served as the chief technology officer at SuperPower Inc before returning to his alma mater to further the study and commercialization of high temperature superconductors with fellow researchers in the Texas Center for Superconductivity at the University of Houston (TCSUH). He received his Ph.D. in materials engineering from UH in 1992.

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