Room-temperature superconductor ‘breakthrough’ met with scepticism

Room-temperature superconductor ‘breakthrough’ met with scepticism

LK-99 partially levitating

Hyun-Tak Kim et al. (2023)

A workforce of researchers claims to have created the primary supplies that conduct electrical energy completely at room temperature and ambient strain, however many physicists are extremely sceptical. Chatting with New Scientist, Hyun-Tak Kim on the Faculty of William & Mary in Virginia says he’ll assist anybody attempting to duplicate his workforce’s work.

Superconductors are supplies by way of which electrical energy can transfer with out encountering any resistance, and so would considerably lower down the power prices of electronics. However for over a century, researchers have been unable to make them work besides below excessive situations like very low temperatures and remarkably excessive pressures.

Now, Kim and his colleagues declare to have made a fabric that’s superconductive at room temperature and strain.

If their claims maintain as much as scientific scrutiny, this new work could be actually extraordinary, so the burden of proof for the analysis workforce is equally distinctive. The truth that some earlier bulletins of breakthroughs in superconductivity analysis resulted in papers being retracted from educational journals after different groups failed to duplicate the outcomes additionally raises the stakes.

To make the brand new materials, referred to as LK-99, Kim and his colleagues blended a number of powdered compounds containing lead, oxygen, sulphur and phosphorus, then heated them at a excessive temperature for a number of hours. This made the powders chemically react and rework right into a darkish gray strong.

The researchers then measured how a lot a millimetre-sized pattern of LK-99 resisted electrical energy passing by way of it at totally different temperatures and located that its so-called resistivity fell sharply from a sizeable optimistic worth at 105°C (221°F) down to just about zero at 30°C (86°F).

The researchers additionally examined the fabric’s response to an magnetic area at a variety of temperatures as a result of superconductors are recognized to expel them as a part of a phenomenon referred to as the Meissner impact. They concluded that it did exhibit this impact within the temperature vary the place it additionally had close to zero resistance.

Due to the Meissner impact, a superconductor floats when positioned on a traditional magnet and the researchers recorded a check of this levitation as nicely. Of their video, they positioned a chunk of LK-99 above a magnet and it clearly rises above the magnet’s floor.

Nevertheless, just one fringe of the flat, coin-like materials absolutely levitates, whereas the opposite appears to remain involved with the magnet. Kim says that is as a result of pattern being imperfect, which signifies that just some a part of it turns into superconductive and reveals the Meissner impact.

At the moment, two papers regarding LK-99 can be found on the preprint service arXiv, which doesn’t conduct peer evaluate, and a associated previous research was printed within the Journal of the Korean Crystal Development and Crystal Expertise in April. Kim has solely co-authored one of many arXiv papers, whereas the opposite is authored by his colleagues on the Quantum Vitality Analysis Centre in South Korea, a few of whom additionally utilized for a patent on LK-99 in August 2022.

Each papers current related measurements, nonetheless Kim says that the second paper incorporates “many defects” and was uploaded to arXiv with out his permission. In that paper, the work is described as opening a “new period for humankind”.

Some commentators on social media heralded the findings as a generational breakthrough, however the overwhelming response from researchers with experience in superconductivity has been largely sceptical.

Susannah Speller and Chris Grovenor on the College of Oxford say that when a fabric turns into superconductive, there must be clear signatures of that in a lot of measurements.

For 2 of these specifically, specifically the response to a magnetic area and a amount referred to as warmth capability, Speller says neither is demonstrated within the information. “So it’s too early to say that we now have been introduced with compelling proof for superconductivity in these samples,” she says.

Different consultants that New Scientist consulted had been equally sceptical concerning the outcomes and the information produced. Some raised concern that among the outcomes might be defined by errors in experimental process mixed with imperfections within the LK-99 pattern.

The theoretical fashions that Kim and his colleagues cite as explaining why the brand new materials can superconduct at such totally different situations than all earlier ones have additionally been referred to as into query by one of many researchers that New Scientist spoke to.

Kim says that he’s conscious of the scepticism however believes that different researchers ought to attempt to replicate his workforce’s work to settle the problem. As soon as the findings are printed in a peer-reviewed journal, which Kim says is within the works, he’ll assist anybody who desires to create and check LK-99 for themselves. Within the meantime, he and his colleagues will proceed to work on perfecting their samples of the alleged miracle superconductor and transfer in the direction of mass-producing it.


  • supplies science/
  • superconductivity

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