Since a group of South Korean scientists claimed at the end of July to have discovered a room temperature superconductor, there has been a lot of excitement in research: If the results of the preprint paper that the researchers had published in advance are confirmed, it would be a scientific and technical sensation. But the chances of that happening are getting worse. Two independent research groups in India and China have failed in their efforts. This emerges from two new preprints (Paper 1 and Paper 2).
In superconductors, the electrical resistance disappears below the “jump temperature”, which in the case of the material LK-99 is said to be 400 Kelvin (about 130 degrees Celsius). Since it is difficult to prove this property directly, materials researchers rely on other evidence for superconductors, such as the Meißner-Ochsenfeld effect, in which a magnetic field is forced out of the superconductor – which, if the field strengths are high enough, also ensures that a superconductor levitates above a magnet. However, neither group could prove perfect diamagnetism and levitation. Basically, however, this does not mean that LK-99 is a mistake or a hoax. For now, it just means that two groups who say they followed the recipe used to make the material exactly have so far failed to reproduce the results. The spacebattles.com website has published an overview of the status of the current attempts, which is constantly updated.
Meanwhile, the scientists involved and the paper are still being hotly debated on the internet. The three are said to have submitted the paper to the journal Nature, where it was rejected. In this context, it is speculated whether Nature rejected the paper because previous papers on high-temperature superconductivity had been withdrawn under high pressure. There is no evidence for any of these rumours. The first author of the study, Sukbae Lee, has since distanced himself from the publication because it was said to be premature.
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