A team of physicists in South Korea has announced that they have created a material that can conduct electricity without resistance at room temperature and ambient pressure. This would be a major breakthrough in physics and technology, as it could revolutionize the fields of energy, electronics, and transportation.
What is a superconductor?
A superconductor is a material that can carry electric current with zero resistance, meaning that no energy is lost as heat. This allows for very high efficiency and performance in devices such as power grids, magnets, motors, and sensors. However, most superconductors only work at very low temperatures, usually below -100°C, and some require high pressure as well. This makes them expensive and impractical for many applications.
How did the Korean team create the superconductor?
The Korean team, affiliated with several institutions, claims to have created a new material called LK-99, which is a mixture of lanarkite (Pb2SO5) and copper phosphide (Cu3P). They say that they used a solid-state reaction to transform the mixture into a dark gray, superconducting material. They have posted two papers on the arXiv preprint server, which have not been peer-reviewed yet.
How did they test the superconductivity?
The team says that they measured the electrical resistance and the magnetic properties of LK-99, and found that it exhibited zero resistance and the Meissner effect, which are the hallmarks of superconductivity. The Meissner effect is when a superconductor expels a magnetic field and levitates above a magnet. The team has provided a video of the material partially levitating, which they say is due to impurities in their sample. They claim that their material works at room temperature (around 20°C) and ambient pressure (around 1 atm).
Why is this discovery important?
If the claims of the Korean team are true, they would have achieved one of the most sought-after goals in physics: a room-temperature superconductor. This would have enormous implications for science and technology, as it would enable the development of new and improved devices and systems that use electricity, such as computers, communication networks, medical equipment, transportation, and renewable energy. A room-temperature superconductor could also lead to new discoveries and applications in quantum physics, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence.
What are the challenges and uncertainties?
However, the claims of the Korean team are met with skepticism and caution by the scientific community, as there have been many false or dubious claims of room-temperature superconductivity in the past. The team’s papers have not been verified by independent experts, and their methods and results have not been replicated by other researchers. There are also many questions and doubts about the validity and reliability of their data, measurements, and analysis. Some critics have pointed out possible errors, inconsistencies, and flaws in their papers, and have suggested alternative explanations for their observations.
Therefore, the Korean team’s discovery is not yet accepted or confirmed by the physics community, and it requires further investigation and verification. It is possible that their material is not a true superconductor, or that it only works under very specific and narrow conditions. It is also possible that their material is a genuine superconductor, but that it has a different mechanism or origin than what they propose. In any case, the team’s claims need to be tested and scrutinized by other scientists, using different techniques and instruments, before they can be considered as valid and credible.