Looking Forward to envisioning free-flowing electric current


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Prof. Yoseph Imry

Prof. Yoseph Imry: "Soon after the Weizmann Institute was founded, my friends and I rode our bikes from Tel Aviv to Rehovot to visit the new Institute. That was a real adventure – one that exposed me to the possibility of doing science from morning to night. Since then, science has held more than one surprise for me. I'm awaiting the next adventure."


External Flow

Under certain circumstances, an electric current can keep flowing forever. In some tiny circuits, this can even take place in materials that aren't superconductors and at temperatures approaching room temperature. Prof. Yoseph (Joe) Imry of the Institute's Condensed Matter Physics Department is used to seeing raised eyebrows when he presents this finding, which stems from one of his theoretical studies. Many had assumed, until that point, that a perpetually flowing electrical current can take place only in superconductors – materials that generally exist only at extremely low temperatures and whose use presents a number of difficulties. Imry and his colleagues succeeded in proving, theoretically, that current can flow forever in non-superconducting materials – on condition that the circuit is a closed loop on the mesoscopic scale (somewhere between the dimensions of everyday objects and the ultra-microscopic scale of quantum physics).

The theory was proven experimentally but, to their surprise, the volume of the electric current that kept on flowing was five to ten times greater than that predicted in the theory. This result put the whole theory in doubt. About a year ago, however, Imry came up with a theoretical solution to the problem that fits the experimental facts. This achievement has received much international attention. His insight has opened the way to developing advanced technological applications based on perpetually flowing current in a number of fields.

Prof. Yoseph Imry's research is supported by the Carolito Stiftung. Prof. Imry is the incumbent of the Max Planck Professorial Chair of Quantum Physics.