We are a world-leading team of 25 scientists and engineers who create and commercialise applications of HTS and other technologies with our industry partners.

Group photograph of Robinson staff.

A determination to see the results of scientific research applied directly in new technologies is fundamental to our team. We are proud to have inherited this ethos from the scientist and engineer Bill Robinson, after whom our Institute is named.

Like Bill Robinson’s lead-rubber seismic bearings, our new technologies are finding acceptance in the energy, high tech and manufacturing industries and are also revolutionising magnet-based imaging systems, such as MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).

Research and partnerships

The Robinson team is recognised worldwide as a pioneer and a leader in high temperature superconductivity (HTS) research. Our commitment to partnerships with industry in New Zealand and overseas is creating a network of companies that are together commercialising the technology we are developing.

Other research partnerships are also bringing about new applications for magnetic sensors, new coolant and transformer technologies and creating better energy storage devices.

Read more about our research.

The team

We are a multi-disciplinary team, with expertise ranging from fundamental physics to cryogenic engineering. This broad base enables us to take on real world problems and rapidly come up with pragmatic solutions for a client.

Our staff and students come from Asia, Europe and America as well as New Zealand, and between us we speak 11 different languages. We warmly welcome the many students and visiting researchers who come to work with us and we have a growing network of collaborators worldwide.


We are located at the Gracefield Research Centre, 20 minutes drive from Wellington city.

High temperature superconductors

Superconductors are materials that transport electricity with close to zero energy loss. Low temperature metallic superconductors are found in magnets used in MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) but require cooling with liquid helium to temperatures below –250°C before they become superconducting.

So called high temperature superconductors (HTS) become superconducting at the relatively high temperature of –196°C. This temperature can be achieved with liquid nitrogen coolant or cryogen-free refrigeration systems. This enables the technology to be applied much more broadly—in electric power systems, transmission cables as well as in magnets.

HTS materials are ceramics and are referred to as an abbreviation of their chemical composition. For example, bismuth strontium calcium copper oxide is called BSCCO ('biss-ko') and yttrium barium copper oxide is called YBCO ('ib-ko').