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Archive for Wednesday, April 26, 1995

LOS ALAMOS SCIENTIST EARNED DEGREE AT KU

April 26, 1995

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A KU graduate led a team that announced a breakthrough in superconductivity last week.

For the second time in a week, a local boy has made good.

Actually, it was the second time that a scientist with Lawrence ties has made international news in a week.

Last Wednesday, The New York Times and The Associated Press reported that scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico announced a breakthrough in superconductivity research.

Dean Peterson, who received his doctorate from Kansas University in 1972, directed the team that announced it had developed a metal-ceramic tape that superconducts electricity at temperatures that are inexpensive to maintain.

The reported breakthrough brings advances such as magnetically levitated trains a step closer to reality, the researchers said.

"It's pretty exciting," Peterson said by phone from Los Alamos. "They say that applications for this could be a $220 billion industry by the year 2010."

Peterson attributed his research success, in part, to KU.

"It's that good University of Kansas training," he said.

"He was a fine student," said KU professor emeritus Paul Gilles, who taught Peterson. "He was an outstanding guy -- diligent, eager, steady -- solid in every way."

Peterson is the second scientist with local ties to be featured recently in news articles appearing throughout the world.

On Saturday, Dr. Larry Kwak, investigator at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., and a 1977 Lawrence High School graduate, led a team that reported that an anti-cancer vaccine foiled the spread of a rare form of blood cancer in one woman.

Gilles said the stories show that people with Lawrence and KU ties can make a difference in the world.

The announcement by Peterson's team means scientists may be able to develop improved electric motors, medical imaging equipment and electrical lines.

The flexible three-layered tape offers an electrical current density of more than 1 million amperes per square centimeter at the relatively high temperature -- for superconductors -- of minus 320 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature of liquid nitrogen.

Peterson said it took about 18 months for three principal investigators to develop the superconducting tape.

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