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The first blush of success in the search for a new superconductor is usually a high transition temperature, Tc. However, all power applications of superconductors and most other applications requires good current carrying capacity, usually characterized by a critical current Ic, within substantial magnetic fields, usually characterized by a critical magnetic field Hc. Furthermore, a number of other characteristics must be satisfied before commercial success can be obtained, such as acceptable cost, mechanical strength, stabilizers, and appropriate insulation materials. I examine a number of superconductors, starting with the workhorse NbTi, and look at the hard road to success for the successful commercialization of a new superconductor. I also review the applications, potential and actual, in which superconductors might be used.
Date of Publication: June 2009