Professor Alex K. Müller, arriving in Estonia on an invitation from the Rector of UT, will stay here until June 9. Prof. Müller works at the IBM Research Laboratory in Zurich, Switzerland. Together with Dr. Johannes Georg Berdnoz, he was awarded the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 1987 Nobel Prize in Physics for groundbreaking work in discovering the superconductivity of ceramic materials.

Professor Müller received the world's most famed science prize for his 1986 discovery of high-temperature superconductors. New superconductors have been among the biggest sensations in science during the last decades and have opened up new avenues of research, among others actively and successfully explored by UT physicists.

Supercoductivity is among the phenomena that has baffled physicists the most and was first observed in 1911. Supercoductivity occurs when superconductor material is cooled to extremely low, so-called 'critical' temperatures. At such threshold temperatures it suddenly becomes possible to pass electricity through the superconductor without any resistance.

The key to Bednorz and Müller's success was giving up the "traditional" materials -- alloys of various compositions. To obtain a chemically stable compound, the researchers added barium to crystals of lanthanum copper oxide, resulting in a ceramic material which became the world's first successful 'high-temperature superconductor'.

Bednorz and Müller are uncontested discoverers of the special case of superconductivity in ceramic materials. Their work has inspired other scientists to create compounds that attain superconductivity at temperatures up to four times higher (calculated against the base temperature of absolute zero, i.e. -273°C) than have been known previously. Electrical and microelectronics engineers are thrilled by the developments in superconductor research for its promise of opening new and unexpected avenues for applications in the field of measurement technology.

The lecture by Nobel laureate Professor Alex K. Müller can be followed over the Internet at the site

Additional information regarding the Nobel Prize awarded to Prof. Alex K. Müller is available at the Nobel Prize home page at .

Illari Lään
Head, UT Public Relations and Information Office

Additional information: Dr. Kaido Reivelt, UT Institute of Physics, tel. +372-742-8175;
Dr. Jaak Kikas, UT Institute of Materials Science, tel. +372-737-5541