Experts are skeptical about the LK-99 room-temperature superconductor proposed by Korean researchers, writes The Verge.
The discussion continues against the backdrop of what LK-99 is being called a remarkable breakthrough. It is said to be the world’s first superconductor capable of conducting electricity without resistance under normal conditions.
Today, other superconductors exist. They are used in magnetic resonance imaging, quantum computers, and nuclear fusion devices. But they operate at very low temperatures or high pressures. This makes them too complex and expensive to use in most everyday applications.
“A technologically viable room-temperature superconductor isn’t just Nobel Prize territory. If you’ve patented it, it’s incalculable value essentially,” says Chris Grovenor, professor of materials at the University of Oxford and director of the Centre for Applied Superconductivity. “It’s transformational on so many things.”
However, the expert community notes that LK-99 has been described in two scientific papers that have not yet been peer-reviewed. In addition, the papers are not consistent with each other. In addition, there are questions about the number of authors, which is different in each paper. At the same time, the researchers did not perform a thermal anomaly test, which is standard for large laboratories that study such materials.
“All superconductors that have ever been proven to be superconductors show this specific heat anomaly,” Grovenor says. “If there is no specific heat anomaly, it ain’t a superconductor.”
LK-99 is made from relatively simple ingredients and does not require extreme temperatures or pressures. So many experts are now trying to reproduce it to see if this invention can truly be called revolutionary.
Meanwhile, representatives of the scientific world do not undertake to predict when such a superconductor will become a reality.
“It may just be magic, a magic unicorn and not exist,” Grovenor explained. “We have no right to expect that there are magic things out there.”
LK-99 is a polycrystalline material consisting of lead, oxygen, and phosphorus doped with copper. In late July, a group of researchers caused a stir by publishing a series of articles about the discovery of LK-99, calling it “a completely new historical event that opens a new era for mankind.