Director's Colloquium

How a single grain boundary found billions of dollars of mineral deposits: An overview of the use of SQUIDs for mineral exploration

Cathy Foley

Dr Cathy Foley

This year commemorates the 50th anniversary of the publication of Brian Josephson’s famous paper which led to his Nobel prize for his theoretical prediction of the properties of a super-current through a tunnel barrier, in particular those phenomena known as the Josephson effect which led to the invention of the Josephson junction. These junctions are key components in devices used to make highly sensitive measurements in magnetic fields. In high temperature superconducting (HTS) materials a Josephson junction is formed from a grain boundary. Since 1988, CSIRO has been developing HTS superconducting devices for a range of applications. The most successful being for mineral exploration where the CSIRO HTS system called LANDTEM has been responsible for the discovery and /or delineation of over $6B of mineral deposits around the world.

This talk will outline the development of the HTS Josephson junction, the development of devices and their application and commercialisation in mineral exploration. The talk will also give an overview of the history of using superconducting devices in mineral exploration and finish with their application in other areas including unexploded ordnance detection, THz imaging, superconducting RF front-end receivers for future communication systems and some other more fundamental applications of superconducting devices.

Dr Cathy Foley was appointed Chief at CSIRO Materials Science and Engineering (CMSE) Division in April 2011.  She joined the CSIRO Division of Materials Science in 1985 as a National Research Fellow, being promoted to Senior Research Scientist in 1991, Principal Research Scientist in 1996, Senior Principal Research Scientist in 2000 and Chief Research Scientist in 2008. Her tertiary education was a DipEd, High School Physics, Macquarie University, 1979, a BSc (Hons 1), majoring in Physics from Macquarie University in 1980 and PhD in Physics, Macquarie University, 1984.

Dr Foley has a world-class reputation in her field. She is a member of the Prime Ministers Science Engineering and Innovation Council, a Fellow of the Institute of Physics in the UK, Immediate past President of the Australian Institute of Physics, Fellow of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ASTE) and the President of Federation of Australian Science and Technology Societies where she represents 60,000 Australian scientists and technologists.


Refreshments will be available in the RSPE Tearoom from 11:30. ALL WELCOME.

Date & time

Thu 2 Aug 2012, 12–1pm


Leonard Huxley Theatre


Staff, students and public welcome