Until recently, the evidence for black holes had only been obtained indirectly; however, a large black hole consisting of 6.5 billion solar masses and residing 55 million light years away has now been imaged using superconducting detectors. This was a remarkable and common-culture captivating discovery requiring an “integrated telescope” collecting measurements from many radio astronomy observatories and an international cast of collaborating scientists and engineers. Tune in to the Applied Superconductivity Conference to hear Art Lichtenberger’s story within the story.

This discovery could not have been accomplished without the Superconducting-Insulating-Superconducting (SIS) detectors at the heart of every receiver that greeted each photon after its long journey through the heavens. Four of the observatories, and almost all of the 230 GHz detectors involved in this discovery, used SIS mixer chips collaboratively developed by the University of Virginia Microfabrication Laboratories and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s Central Development Laboratory.

“The superconductivity community undertook a decades-long technology development effort encompassing materials, devices, and circuits for the detectors. The entire superconductivity community shares in this success. Imaging this black hole is just one of many scientific achievements that superconductivity has enabled,” Lichtenberger said.

Lichtenberger plans to discuss the history of black holes and highlight the critical impact of the superconducting field on scientific discovery including several other astronomical discoveries in his plenary talk at this year’s virtual Applied Superconductivity Conference. Lichtenberger will deliver his plenary talk on Friday, Nov. 6 at 6:00 p.m. ET. Watch the live stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_iMr1JUwD0&feature=youtu.be

About the speaker:  Lichtenberger, UVA professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the University of Virginia Microfabrication Laboratories, has built an internationally recognized research program in superconducting materials, devices, circuits and packaging for ultra-sensitive single pixel and array THz detectors. For over 30 years, Lichtenberg has collaborated with astronomical groups to develop state-of-the-art millimeter and submm wavelength mixers for use on radio telescopes throughout the world. His group’s research includes the investigation of materials and microfabrication technologies for new terahertz devices, circuits and metrology. To date, Lichtenberger has been a principal investigator or co-PI on over $40 million dollars of funding and an author on over 150 papers. He is a founding member and the president and chief operations officer of Dominion MicroProbes Inc. He oversees a $15 million investment to renovate the UVML clean room and serves as principal investigator for UVA’s additional $10 million investment in equipment to help launch the multifunctional materials integration facility.