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Superconductor physicist receives Rutherford Medal

Superconductor physicist receives Rutherford Medal for Science and Technology

The Royal Society's highest honour - the 2002 Rutherford Medal for Science and Technology - was presented tonight to Professor Jeffery Tallon, who is internationally known for his development of superconductors. The Medal was presented by the Minister of Research, Science and Technology, Hon Pete Hodgson, on the eve of an international conference at Te Papa, which brings together many of New Zealand's top scientists (

Professor Tallon is a leading international researcher in high-temperature superconductors (HTS). These materials become perfect conductors when cooled below a critical temperature and are now appearing in several revolutionary technologies. The Minister said, "Jeff is remarkable not only for his deep understanding of superconductors, but for his ability to take ideas beyond the lab to commercial development. This has demanded special qualities of vision and leadership. The science of superconductors requires knowledge as well as practical ability in chemistry, physics, and engineering science. Jeff's enthusiasm, energy and achievements mark him out as an outstanding New Zealand scientist." Professor Tallon has worked at Industrial Research Limited in Lower Hutt since 1967. He has initiated several industrial partnerships to implement HTS technology, culminating in March 1997 with the commissioning of a world-first HTS accelerator magnet.

Professor Tallon, with colleagues, has discovered and patented many novel HTS superconductors, including the only material currently being developed for cables, magnets, motors and transformers.

A former James Cook Research Fellow and Deputy Chair of the Marsden (Research) Fund, Professor Tallon has won many awards for his ground-breaking research. His personal enthusiasm for the discipline of physics, and his passion for issues of science and society, are communicated widely through speaking and demonstrating to schools, service organisations, professional societies and the wider community.

Previous winners of the Rutherford Medal include "Prof (John) Walker" who is well-known for his vegetable gardening tips on the Maggie Barry Show (1999); Nobel Laureate, Professor Alan MacDiarmid (2000); and paediatrician, Professor Peter Gluckman (2001).

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