Superconductors and Surface Acoustic Wave Devices

Paul Henry Carr, Ph.D.

Electronics Consultant &
Air Force Research Laboratory Emeritus
ATTN: SNHA, Hanscom AFB, MA 01731-3010


The process of scientific creativity will be discussed together with the development of superconducting and SAW (Surface Acoustic Wave) technology. Creativity usually occurs in three stages:
(1) engagement and intense concentration on a problem;
(2) incubation due to logical inconsistencies in which conscious thought is useless; and finally
(3) illumination, insight, "aha," "eureka," when relaxed.

IBM scientists, Muller and Bednorz, won the 1987 Nobel Prize for their discovery of the cuprate high-temperature superconductors. Their source of inspiration for investigating these highly symmetric crystals was the Dharmaraja mandala, a highly symmetric symbol of the universe used in Hinduism and Buddhism as a guide to meditation.*  Superconducting wires are used in the magnets needed for MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging.) Compact, thin-film superconducting filters are used in cellular phone base-stations.

SAW filters are used in hand-held cellular phones as well as in color TV and radar. Slobodnik and Szabo of the Air Force Research Laboratory discovered  focusing orientations of anisotropic piezoelectric SAW crystals for which the SAW diffraction spreading is 1/100th that of isotropic materials. These cuts resulted in compact, high performance SAW
filters now flying in Air Force Systems.
* "Discoveries have broad and deep root systems, hidden personal aspects, and lessons for science policy."
(How a Scientific Study is Made: A Case History, by G. Holton, H. Chang, E. Jurkowitz,
American Scientist, vol 84,  pp 364-373, July-Aug 1996)

Presented at:
Sigma Xi Spring Meeting, University of Hartford, West Hartford, CT, 23 April 1999, 4:30 P.M.
 Physics Department Colloquium, University of Massachusetts Lowell, 27 October 1999, 3:30 P.M.
 Vectron International Company, 237 Lowell Rd, Hudson, NH, 7 January 2000,  2:00 P.M
 IEEE Life Members Chapter, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Lexington, MA , 4:00 PM,  20 February 2002

Paul H. Carr has had a long and distinguished career as a research scientist. He earned his Ph.D. in Physics at Brandeis University after receiving the B.S. and M.S. degrees from MIT. From 1958 through 1961 he was on the staff of Lincoln Lab; he then served in the Army and joined Air Force Cambridge Research Labs (AFCRL) in 1962. From 1967 to 1995, he led the Component Technology Branch at AFCRL, later Rome Laboratory and presently the Air Force Research Laboratory at Hanscom AFB where he is presently emeritus. His Branch's basic research on surface acoustic waves (SAW) resulted in signal processing filters used in radar, communication, cellular phones, and TV. The Air Force Office of Scientific Research selected his Branch as a STAR Research Team in 1990. His 80 research papers and 10 patents include contributions to microwave ultrasonics, SAW, superconductivity, and laser-activated antennas.

He has received many awards, among which are the O’Day Memorial Award for best AFCRL paper published in 1967, the 1973 AFCRL Loeser Memorial Award Lecture for sustained scientific achievement  and the 1976 Air Force Systems Command Outstanding Technical Achievement Award for a low-spurious SAW delay line, which solved "false target" problem in operational radar. In 1991 he was named the Rome Laboratory Engineer of the Year.

He was  Guest Editor, of the September, 1991 Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques (MTT) Special Issue on Microwave Applications of Superconductors.  In 1994-95 he served as Chairman of the IEEE  Boston Chapter of Microwave Theory and Techniques, MTT (89-90) He is a Life Fellow of the IEEE and a Life Member of the American Physical Society. His biography is listed in Marquis' " Who's Who in America. His home page is