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

Group photograph of Robinson staff.

Courage and skill. The Polynesian navigators who set out across the vast ocean to discover new worlds had confidence in their expert knowledge and technology. They made their waka longer and stronger using the clever paihau splice, which meant they could safely take their whānau with them. In the spirit of those bold voyagers, the scientists and engineers of the Paihau–Robinson Research Institute strive to discover new worlds of knowledge. We take new scientific ideas and turn them into innovative engineering solutions.

Like Bill Robinson, the indomitable engineer after whom our Institute is named, we want to see our science embodied in technologies that enhance New Zealand businesses. It’s all about making the ‘waka’ longer, stronger, and better.

We are also committed to ensuring we take all of our people along with us – developing young women and men into tomorrow’s scientists and engineers. To have the courage to strike out into the unknown, with the technologies and people to turn bold ideas into reality.

Research and partnerships

Paihau–Robinson is recognised worldwide as a pioneer and leader in high-temperature superconductivity (HTS) research. Our commitment to industry partnerships within Aotearoa 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 situated within the Gracefield Innovation Quarter, 20 minutes 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').