Innovative materials and superconductivity 

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Innovative materials and superconductivity

Module 11

Part 1

Innovative materials and superconductivity

Ex.1 Work in pairs. Discuss the following questions.

1. Do you like using gadgets?

2. What kind of gadgets do you use?

3. What do you know about graphene?

4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of having cell phone gadgets?


Ex.2 Look through the following words/word combinations to help you to understand the text below.

entrepreneur предприниматель
estimate оценивать
superconductive property свойство сверхпроводимости
nuclear sciences cluster группа, занимающаяся ядерными науками
innovation hub инновационый центр
competitor конкурент
star constellation созвездие
radiation poisoning отравление радиацией
software developer разработчик программного обеспечения
spill разлив, утечка
plug-in эл. вставная вилка
nuclear waste storage facilities складские помещения ядерных отходов
unbeatable непревзойденный
recognition признание
fall-out zones зд. «выпавшие» зоны; зоны, подвергшиеся ядерной аварии

Ex. 3 Read the text. Give the title to each part. Fill in gaps 1-4 with the following word combinations:

a) Acknowledgements and recognition b) Nano-sized material graphene c) Movie gadget

d) Marketing tour

Radiation detection goes mobile [1]

1)………….These days our cell phone gadgets can do a lot of things, from trading stocks to watching movies to mapping star constellations, but when things get really bad, can they save our lives? Well, that might depend on how likely you are to die from radiation poisoning.

Russian software developer Vladimir Elin has developed an innovative cell phone device that can instantly measure the radiation levels of any given place or thing.

Despite sounding more like a gadget from a James Bond movie than a practical app for everyday life, Elin says that his Do-Ra device – short for the rather less catchy dosimeter-radiometer – is aimed at making life easier for ordinary people.

2)………….The entrepreneur first came up with the idea when he was writing an article about radiation from the Fukushima nuclear power plant spill in Japan for an engineering magazine.

He took the device on a marketing tour of Japan, where it was well received by the country’s major cell phone manufacturers, including Fujitsu and Sony Ericsson.

The device is a small cell phone plug-in that works together with an easy-to-use smart phone app. It can measure radiation levels in both areas and foodstuffs.

“My radiation dosimeter will be invaluable to anyone living near potentially dangerous radioactive areas such as nuclear waste storage facilities or fall-out zones such as Fukushima or Chernobyl,” Elin said, swiping the gadget over a cup of steaming tea on his desk to show how it works. Within seconds the screen of the inventor’s cell phone flashes green, thankfully indicating a safe level of radiation.

“If the screen turns yellow, it means radiation levels are above average,” Elin says. “If it turns red, you need to run away as fast as you can.”

The device also features other apps that show the radiation levels of different parts of the user’s body and even produce a radiation risk map of the entire world.

3)………….. Elin has already received recognition for his device both at home and abroad. In Russia, Intersoft Eurasia, the startup company in which Elin set up his invention, has joined the nuclear sciences cluster at the Skolkovo innovation hub, and an international patenting commission has estimated the gadget’s value at around $200 million.

4)………….. The inventor, who initially invested some $100,000 of his own money in the device, is in the process of patenting the working model of the gadget in 148 countries.

Elin’s competitors abroad happened to be also working on similar devices, but they are far behind him in terms of compactness. Elin has been already patenting an idea to use the nano-sized material graphene to make the device even smaller. The material, whose invention won two Russian-born scientists the Nobel Prize for physics last year, will work well with his device due to its superconductive properties. Do-Ra is reported to be much more compact than the other gadgets on the market and it will be absolutely unbeatable when the graphene is used.


Ex.4 Match the words/word combinations to their definitions

1. superconductivity a) to spend money on sth in order to make it better or more successful.
2. graphite b) a group of stars that forms a shape in the sky and has a name.
3. to map c) the property (=characteristic) of some substances at very low temperatures to let electricity flow with no resistance
4. to invest (sth) (in/on sth) d) a chemical element; it is a soft reddish-brown metal used for making electric wires, pipes and coins.
5. cluster e) the central and most important part of a particular place or activity
6. hub f) to make a map of an area
7. constellation g) a group of people close together
8. copper h) a soft black mineral that is a form of carbon; it is used to make pencils, to lubricate machinery, and in nuclear reactors.

Ex.5 Match column A to column B

1. superconductive a) stocks
2. trading b) magazine
3. engineering c) detection
4. radiation d) properties

Ex. 11 Role-play the dialogues. Discuss graphene applications.

Dialogue I

Nickolay Petrov: I've learned recently that GPS technology uses Einstein's relativity theory since time aboard GPS satellite runs slower than on earth. Because satellite travels faster at 35,786 km altitude than me in my car on the earth surface. Who would have guessed in 1905 that Einstein's work would be used in such a practical application? Same thing for graphene! Nobody knows where it will take us. So now we have this wonderful graphene thing. It is a good thing to invest in this material of the future. Without investment there is no growth. Technological advance is always better then to fall behind. Do you think it is necessary to invest?

Alexey Antonov: I think when you don’t invest in science you stagnate and fall behind. Investment in this technology may turn out to be wasted but it would be a mistake to let the rest of the world profit from our discoveries. And what about recycling of graphene? Will it just pile up? (нагромождать)

Nickolay P.: Graphene is pure carbon so it will burn easily, resulting in carbon dioxide - the same stuff we breathe out. Alexey, can you tell me more about major commercial use of graphene?

Alexey A.: With pleasure. Graphene has one very obvious major commercial use - powering the individual cells in modern displays. Now the individual cells are tiny, flexible and strong, graphene is flexible and very strong, so display surfaces can be created that are very lightweight, large and flexible, yet very robust and durable. Also, graphene has been shown to be "self-healing", useful for real-world electronics. But, Nickolay, can this material be used for quantum computing?

Nickolay P.: Certainly. Graphene might be used for quantum computing. The really difficult part is getting the quantum field to work stably at or near room temperatures. Even more interesting it is only a tiny step from room temperature quantum systems to room temperature superconductors... some really exciting things lead from there...Where else will it find its application?

Alexey A.: Graphene boasts an unusual number of possible applications and money flows into its research accordingly, the flow boosted (зд. увеличиваться) perhaps by its obvious-to-everyone uniqueness. It's all still at fundamental level and can bring us unforeseen benefits in future. This is an absolutely amazing material that even I, as a non-technical person can see that it offers life-changing solutions, in so many areas. The application of graphene is staggering from defence to domestic appliances and medical treatments and computing. The list is endless to what this material can be used for.


Dialogue II

Alexey A.: Could you tell me about the history of graphene?

Nickolay P.: As far as I know the research done on graphene has started only 8 years ago. Graphene has been known since 1916. It is only since 2004 that we've started to realise its properties. As with so-called "rare earths", there's still millions of uses we could invent for this stuff. As long as its production doesn't harm the environment, the future looks good. One day, we'll wonder how we ever did without it. Can graphene be produced in large quantities economically if it is environmentally friendly?

Alexey A.: Yes. A tough, highly conductive material would reduce the losses inherent (присущий) in our power distribution system. Less waste in distribution = less power needed to be generated in the first place. When the laser was invented 53 years ago, nobody saw a use for it. It was called "an answer without a question". 53 years on, we know somewhat better. Graphene may prove to be a wonder material, or it may not. But it shows promise - and promise has to be good enough at this stage. Could you tell us about interfacing Graphene to other common materials?

Nickolay P.: Graphene is no doubt a wonder material. The practical barriers I suggest will be those of sticking the thin sheets together using normal materials and of interfacing Graphene to other common materials. Similar problems persist with Carbon Fibre. I would like to hear from anyone who can help my R&D company develop new patented carbon Fibre Technology which may well be applicable to Graphene.

Alexey A.: Maybe we could help your R&D company. Graphene is not a technology, it is a material with properties that may find their way into technologies. Only time will tell. Without other similar materials with which to make layers, like an atomic scale Kevlar, its applicability to engineering and manufacturing is likely to remainwork in progress. Multiple layers of graphene is graphite. Graphene is a very exciting material, however the money should be distributed to researching all the technologies required for it.

Ex. 15 Topical questions.

1)Why do people love gadgets so much? Is it because they are convenient means of communication – or do they have other qualities? Do a survey in your class to find out.

2) Are there any advantages and disadvantages of using these devices?

3) What gadgets are necessary for you in your everyday life and why?

Part 2 New hope for energy

Listening comprehension.

Vocabulary and definitions

toxic poisonous, able to cause illness or death
compound a chemical that contains two or more elements
ensuing happening as a result of
competitive (of goods or services) as cheap or cheaper than
fossil fuel source of energy formed from plants and animals which died millions of years ago (such as oil, coal and gas)
on an industrial scale in large quantities
tofu a soft white substance like cheese, made from soya and used in cooking, often instead of meat
steadily slowly but continuously


1. (дата обращения к электронному ресурсу - 17.09.2015.)

2. (дата обращения к электронному ресурсу 21.09.2015)


4. Ghosh P.Solar power cheaper than coal? [«Электронный ресурс]// caйт новостей Би-би-си. URLдата обращения к электронному ресурсу 14.09. 2015)



¹Nikishenkov O. Radiation detection goes mobile The Moscow News, 2011. URL:


Module 11

Part 1

Innovative materials and superconductivity


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