Is High-Temperature Superconductivity Finally Becoming a Reality?


Article by: Juliana Bakhtsizina, on 01 August 2023 at 05:58 amC PDT

Superconductors, materials that can conduct electricity with zero resistance, have been the subject of intense scientific research since their discovery. The potential applications of superconductors in various fields, such as energy transmission and advanced electronics, have spurred global efforts to explore new room-temperature superconductors. Recent progress in creating room-temperature superconductors using hydrogen sulfide and yttrium super-hydride has been remarkable. However, the need for extreme pressure conditions to maintain their superconducting properties limits their practical applications. 

Recently, a team of researchers from South Korea has achieved a significant breakthrough by synthesizing a room-temperature superconductor, LK-99, that operates under ambient pressure conditions. For the first time in history, the researchers have successfully created a room-temperature superconductor with a critical temperature (Tc) of over 400 K (127 °C) that functions under normal atmospheric pressure. 

How does this superconductor work?

The superconductivity of LK-99 arises from a subtle structural distortion caused by a slight volume shrinkage of 0.48%. This shrinkage is attributed to the substitution of Cu2+ ions for Pb2+ ions within the insulating network of Pb(2)-phosphate. The resulting stress is then transferred to the cylindrical column, leading to a distortion of the cylindrical column interface. This structural distortion is the key to creating superconducting quantum wells (SQWs) in the interface, which play a crucial role in LK-99's superconducting behavior. 

The properties of LK-99 as a superconductor were tested and verified through critical parameters such as zero-resistivity, critical current (Ic), critical magnetic field (Hc), and the Meissner effect; and the results seem very promising.

Should we trust the results?

Still, before we jump to conclusions, it's important to keep our excitement in check about this discovery. The paper in question hasn't been peer-reviewed yet, and so far, attempts to replicate the LK-99 research results have not been successful.

Over the years, the world of superconductors has seen some noteworthy announcements. One such example involves Ranga Dias, a physicist from the University of Rochester, New York, who claimed a breakthrough in room-temperature superconductors back in 2020. However, the problem with his superconductor was how difficult it was to verify the results, as it requires extreme pressure and specialized tools like 'diamond anvil cells

On the other hand, the material examined by the research group from South Korea can be produced using conventional tools. This characteristic is expected to speed up the process of verifying the results. For now, we'll have to wait and see...

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