Bad news for room-temperature superconductors

Two teams of researchers in India and China have been unable to reproduce measurements on a new material that is said to be superconducting at room temperature.

Ever since a group of South Korean scientists claimed to have discovered a room-temperature superconductor at the end of July, excitement has been running high in the research community: if the results of the preprint paper the researchers had published in advance were confirmed, it would be a scientific and technical sensation. But the chances of that happening are worsening. Two independent research groups in India and China have failed in their efforts. That’s according to two new preprints (Paper 1 and Paper 2).

Read also: Breaking Boundaries: Scientists Unveil Room Temperature Superconductor Discovery

In superconductors, electrical resistance disappears below the “transition temperature,” which in the case of the LK-99 material is said to be 400 Kelvin (about 130 degrees Celsius). Since it is difficult to prove this property directly, materials researchers rely on other indications for superconductors, such as the Meissner effect , in which a magnetic field is forced out of the superconductor – which, at sufficiently high field strengths, also causes a superconductor to float above a magnet. However, neither group was able to demonstrate perfect diamagnetism and levitation. In principle, however, this does not mean that LK-99 is a fallacy or a hoax. At this time, it simply means that two groups that claim to have followed the exact recipe for making the material have so far failed to reproduce the results. The website has published an overview of the status of the current experiments, which is constantly updated.

Meanwhile, heated debate continues on the Internet about the scientists involved and the paper. Allegedly, the three submitted the paper to the scientific journal “Nature”, where it was rejected. In this context, it is speculated whether Nature rejected the paper because essays on high-temperature superconductivity had previously been withdrawn under high pressure. There is no evidence for any of these rumors. Meanwhile, the study’s first author, Sukbae Lee, has distanced himself from the publication, saying it was premature.


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