Scientists are unsure as the superconductor shares flash investor turmoil

August 7, 2023: In the previous week, two papers by South Korean scientists made an extraordinary assertion that flashed a social media uproar and pushed up prices of some stocks in China and South Korea: the finding of a practical superconductor.

Superconductors are materials that permit electrical current to flow with no resistance. This parcel would revolutionize power grids where energy is lost in transmission and advanced fields such as computing chips, where electrical opposition acts as a speed limit.

The papers, which appeared on a website used by scientists to share research before traditional peer review and publication, spurred researchers worldwide, including in at least two U.S. national labs and three Chinese colleges, to take a closer look at the proposed material.

Superconducting fabrics already exist in places such as MRI machines for medical imaging and some quantum computers but only display their superconducting effects at extremely low temperatures, making them impractical for wide use.

The South Korean researchers the previous week said they found a superconductor that works at room temperature, which has long been considered a holy grail for scientists in the field.

The researchers also published a recipe for making the material – dubbed LK-99 which involves taking a relatively common mineral called lead apatite and introducing a small number of copper atoms into it.

The South Korean students published two papers – one initial paper with three authors and a second, more detailed paper with six authors that included only two from the foremost form. None of the authors contacted by Reuters responded to a request for comment.

Physicists interviewed by the good news is that no law of physics says a room-temperature superconductor cannot exist. The material described by the South Korean team is easy to grow, meaning other researchers should be able to begin getting results as soon as this week.

The gold standard for proof of discovery is other labs reliably replicating the South Korean researchers’ findings.

Researchers from at least three Chinese universities have recently said they produced performances of LK-99 with varying results. One Huazhong University of Science and Technology team posted a video depicting the material levitating over a magnet. This is important because true superconductors can hover over an interest in any orientation without spinning like a compass.

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