A team of Korean physicists has announced a groundbreaking discovery that could revolutionize the fields of electricity and electronics. They claim to have created the first material that can conduct electricity without any resistance at room temperature and normal pressure.
The challenge of superconductivity
Superconductivity is a phenomenon where certain materials lose all electrical resistance when cooled below a critical temperature. This means that electric currents can flow through them without any loss of energy as heat. Superconductors have many potential applications, such as more efficient power grids, faster and more powerful computers, and novel devices such as quantum computers and levitating trains.
However, the challenge of superconductivity is that most known superconductors require extremely low temperatures, usually close to absolute zero (-273.15°C), to exhibit this property. Some materials, known as high-temperature superconductors, can achieve superconductivity at higher temperatures, but still require cooling with liquid nitrogen (-196°C) or liquid helium (-269°C). Moreover, some superconductors also need high pressure to work, which adds to the complexity and cost of using them.
The breakthrough of LK-99
The Korean team, affiliated with several institutions in South Korea, claims to have overcome these challenges by creating a new material that they call LK-99. This material is said to be a superconductor at room temperature (around 20°C) and ambient pressure (around 1 atm). The team has posted two papers on the arXiv preprint server, where they describe the synthesis and characterization of LK-99.
According to the papers, LK-99 is a dark gray compound that is formed by a solid-state reaction between lanarkite (Pb2SO5) and copper phosphide (Cu3P). The team says that they measured the electrical resistance and magnetic properties of LK-99 and found that it shows zero resistance and the Meissner effect, which are characteristics of superconductivity. The Meissner effect is when a superconductor expels an external magnetic field from its interior, causing it to levitate above a magnet. The team has provided a video of LK-99 partially levitating above a magnet as evidence of their discovery.
The skepticism and implications
The team’s claims have not been peer reviewed or replicated by other researchers yet. There have been previous false claims of room-temperature superconductors in the past, which were later retracted or debunked. Therefore, the scientific community is cautious and skeptical about the validity and reliability of the Korean team’s results.
If the claims are true, however, LK-99 will be a breakthrough discovery that will transform the fields of electricity and electronics. It will open up new possibilities for developing more efficient and powerful devices that use electricity without wasting energy as heat. It will also enable new applications that were previously impossible or impractical with conventional superconductors.
The question remains: how did the Korean team achieve what many others have failed to do for more than a century? What is the secret behind LK-99’s remarkable properties? And what are the potential benefits and risks of using this material in the real world?
The answers may lie in the two papers that the team has posted online, which are available for anyone to read and scrutinize.