Controversial new material: a superconductor that can change the world we know


A group of three South Korean researchers published two papers on the arXiv platform reporting the discovery and fabrication of the first superconductor capable of operating at ambient temperature and pressure. This generated strong discussions in the scientific community, which shows great skepticism about it until it was successfully replicated by peer reviewers. If true, this material could revolutionize industrial and everyday technology in the coming years.

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Still showing the alleged levitation of the LK-99 material. Physicists report this phenomenon as caused by levitation of a superconductor.

Superconducting materials

In materials science, superconductors are known as those that allow, under certain conditions of temperature and pressure, the flow of electrons without any resistance or loss of energy.. Those currently used usually reach the critical temperature, at which the electrical resistivity drops to zero, a few degrees above absolute zero. In another particular case, it is not necessary so much cold, achieving the same effect at room temperature. But with the problem of requiring colossal pressures.

Superconductors are striking for their applications. For example, magnetic levitation trains, resonance, circuits, energy transport, highly sensitive instruments, among many others.. But, with great limitations due to the need for temperature and pressure.

The possibility of achieving superconductivity at ambient conditions opens the door to improvements in quantum computing, magnetic levitation train transport, and energy flow and storage.. To name a few expected examples, but it has the potential to completely revolutionize all the technologies we use in our daily lives.

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Top view of the LK-99 material structure.

A trio aspiring to the Nobel Prize

The two drafts were published under peculiar circumstances, one of the most striking of which is the presence of only three authors.. Coincidentally, this is the maximum number of awardees per year in the same year. Nobel Prize category.

The South Korean team reports having succeeded in synthesizing the so-called LK-99, a material based on lead apatite doped with copper. This solves the problem of requiring very low temperatures or very high pressures. Or at least this is the preliminary report, it is essential to replicate its fabrication in other laboratories and get the same results to corroborate the possible discovery.

The experiments performed by the physicists consisted of testing the magnetic and electrical properties of LK-99 under different temperatures. For example, the response to different currents or the ability to levitate by resting on a magnetThe characteristic property of superconductors. In fact, a video published showing just this last process was one of the aids to achieve such a stir in the scientific community.


Photograph of a fragment of the LK-99.

However, superconductors are not the only ones with the ability to levitate. Those known as diamagnetic have similar properties, but with only a fraction of the potential for use in technology or industry. Such as devices with greater autonomy; cell phones or cars, computers with greater processing capacity and optimizing the use of the energy generated.

In the world's spotlight

A discovery of this caliber cannot be taken lightly, it is essential that the material and results presented can be replicated in other laboratories. Science has been built from a strong community capable of testing the veracity of different papers. This is a necessary process to know the truth about LK-99.

Francisco Andrés Forero Daza
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