Focus on Only One Thing in the Life, Benefit the Nation with Superconductors
/ Paul Chu / President of Taiwan Comprehensive University System
Paul Chu is well-known for his research and achievement in superconductivity. He supports future successors and devotes himself to higher education and the development of national competitiveness.
Follow the examples of Tsung-Dao Lee and Chen-Ning Franklin Yang, Devote himself to “Prosperity through Technology”
Chu was born in Zhijiang, Hunan Province. His father’s experience in war was the major reason for his choice for physics. His father, then a pilot, once told him, “The U.S. has advanced technology, while China is relatively backward. If you wish to serve for the country, start from technology.” Therefore, the idea of “prosperity through technology” grew in his mind. With encouragement from Tsung-Dao Lee, and Chen-Ning Franklin Yang, Chu determined to study in the field of technology. “Everyone in our generation was passionate, hoping to achieve something like what they have achieved,” said Chu exhilarated.
Semiconductor was the most popular in the field of Physics. Chu gained acquaintance with professors Tung-Sheng Chang, Kuang-Te Yang, and Wang-Chien Peng during his study at NCKU. “They are outstanding professors,” said Chu gratefully, 60 years after their acquaintance.
Discovery in Superconductivity, Breakthrough in Modern Physics
After obtaining his Bachelor’s Degree, Chu continued his study in Fordham University (New York, the U.S.), and obtained his P.hD degree at the University of California, San Diego in 1968.
In the U.S, Chu studies in the laboratory of Matthias, the superconductivity giant, and started his journey into superconductivity. The early superconductors had low Tc. However, bringing the temperature down to near absolute zero (-273℃) requires a lot of energy. Therefore, scientists have been looking for high-temperature superconductors (Superconductors with a transition temperature above 77K, or -196℃, the boiling point of liquid nitrogen). Chu’s ultimate goal was to discover a “room-temperature superconductor.”
On Thanksgiving Day in 1986, Chu’s team found that YBCO (YBa2Cu3O7) exhibits superconductive characteristics at 70 K. In mid-January 1987, Chu observed superconductivity above 90 K in YBCO. When Chu started to write the papers, his former student, Maw-Kuen Wu, also observed superconductivity above 90 K in YBCO. Through repeated experiments, Chu announced the finding at the end of January and is recognized as a major breakthrough in modern physics.
However, in September 1986, K. Alexander Müller and J. Georg Bednorz published their discovery of the superconductivity of an oxide at a temperature of 30 K, and they were thus awarded the Nobel Prize.
Chu was not crestfallen. He said, “Many scientists are like us, missed the Nobel Prize by inches. Discovery of new things is what really matters to us physicists.” When he found that “superconductors” play a critical role for the future of mankind, he devoted his whole life to superconductivity.
Awarded with Numerous International Awards, Superconductors may Be the Solution to Energy Crisis
Chu is well-recognized for his contribution to science and has received numerous honorable awards including Bernd Theodor Matthias Prize, National Medal of Science – the U.S.’s highest honor for scientists, and John Fritz Medal – the highest honor for engineers, which is also bestowed upon distinguished scientists including Thomas Alva Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and Erico Fermi.
In 1987, Chu assumed the position of Founding Director & Chief Scientist, Texas Center for Superconductivity at the University of Houston. From 2001 to 2009, Chu served as the President of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. In 2012, he assumed the position of President of the “Taiwan Comprehensive University System” without pay, hoping to contribute to the development of higher education in Taiwan.
Currently, Chu is researching at the Texas Center for Superconductivity at the University of Houston, the largest in the U.S. focusing on topics including superconductors and thermoelectric materials. In the future, superconductors will be the solution to energy crisis. Chu believes, “We shall not wait until superconductors have been perfected; we can already apply them to use now.” This is uplifting news, and he anticipates more people to join the application superconductors.
(Photo credit: CommonWealth Magazine)
Department of Physics Class ‘62
・Fellowship of Russian Academy of Engineering, United States National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Academia Sinica, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Academy of Sciences for the Developing World.
・Awarded the Bernd Theodor Matthias Prize in 1994 to honor his outstanding contribution in the field of superconductivity.
・Awarded the National Medal of Science – the U.S.’s highest honor for scientists, and is also called the Presidential Award in 1998.
・Awarded the John Fritz Medal in 2001. – the highest honor for engineers, which is also bestowed upon distinguished scientists including Thomas Alva Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and Erico Fermi.
・Serve as the President of the “Taiwan Comprehensive University System” from 2012 to the present.
朱經武 / 物理學系51級
・1994年榮獲馬蒂亞斯獎(Bernd Theodor Matthias Prize)，表彰其在超導領域的卓越貢獻。
・1998年榮獲美國科學家最高榮譽的「國家科學獎」（National Medal of Science），此獎也被稱為總統科學獎章。
・2001年獲頒工程界最崇高的「約翰弗里茨獎」（John Fritz Medal)，包含愛迪生、貝爾及費米等傑出科學家，也是這個獎的得主。