A group of physicists from South Korea has announced a breakthrough discovery in the field of superconductivity, the phenomenon of zero electrical resistance. The team says they have created a material that exhibits superconductivity at room temperature and normal pressure, something that has eluded scientists for more than a century.
What is superconductivity and why is it important?
Superconductivity is a state of matter where electrons can flow through a material without any loss of energy due to friction or heat. This means that superconductors can carry large amounts of current with very high efficiency, which has many potential applications in fields such as electricity generation and transmission, electronics, computing, medicine, transportation and more.
However, most known superconductors only work at very low temperatures, usually below -200°C, and some require high pressure as well. This makes them impractical and expensive to use in real-world situations. Therefore, finding a material that can achieve superconductivity at room temperature and ambient pressure has been a long-standing goal and challenge for physicists.
How did the Korean team create their superconductor?
The Korean team, led by Professor Lee Seung-hoon of Seoul National University, claims to have created a new material called LK-99, which is composed of lanarkite (Pb2SO5) and copper phosphide (Cu3P). The team says they used a solid-state reaction method to combine the two compounds in a sealed vacuum tube and heat them to 800°C for 10 hours.
The resulting material is a dark gray powder that has a layered structure with alternating planes of lanarkite and copper phosphide. The team says they measured the electrical resistance and magnetic properties of LK-99 and found that it showed zero resistance and the Meissner effect, which are hallmarks of superconductivity. They also provided a video of the material partially levitating above a magnet, which is another demonstration of superconductivity.
The team claims that LK-99 can maintain its superconductivity up to 27°C, which is slightly above room temperature. They also say that it does not require any external pressure to work. They have posted two papers on the arXiv preprint server describing their methods and results.
What are the reactions and implications of their discovery?
The announcement by the Korean team has generated a lot of excitement and skepticism in the scientific community. Many experts have expressed doubts about the validity and reproducibility of their findings, as there have been several false claims of room-temperature superconductors in the past. Some have also pointed out possible flaws or errors in their experimental procedures and data analysis.
The team has responded to some of the criticisms by saying that they are confident in their results and that they welcome other researchers to verify them independently. They have also said that they are working on publishing their papers in peer-reviewed journals and applying for patents for their material.
If their claims turn out to be true, the Korean team will have made one of the most significant discoveries in physics history, as it would open up new possibilities for technological innovation and scientific exploration. However, until then, many questions remain unanswered about LK-99 and its properties, such as how it works at the microscopic level, what are its limitations and challenges, and how it can be scaled up and applied in practical scenarios.