TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwanese scientists have not reproduced the results of a South Korean experiment in which a superconductor capable of operating at room temperature was claimed to have been found in a major breakthrough.
In July, three South Korean researchers published two papers on a preprint server suggesting they had discovered a room-temperature ambient-pressure superconductor called LK-99. The discovery could be worthy of a Nobel Prize, given its potential to usher in revolutionary technologies in power grids, computer chips, and maglev trains.
Currently, superconductivity can only be achieved at extremely low temperatures and high pressure, hence the limitations for wider use.
To verify their claim, scientists around the globe have rushed to try to replicate the result. One team led by Wang Li-min (王立民), a physics professor at the prestigious National Taiwan University (NTU), conducted an experiment between Aug. 1-5, but the result failed to impress.
Wang told Liberty Times that the material produced in their lab exhibited some diamagnetic properties, but it did not match the hallmarks of superconductivity. No zero resistance was observed either, as was claimed by the South Korean researchers, he said.
However, the expert did not rule out the possibility of developing a superconductor at room temperature and said the team will make some tweaks, for example, in temperature, in future experiments.
Replication efforts are ongoing as scientists cast a skeptical eye on the claim. According to Nature, some experiments in China and India have reportedly synthesized LK-99, but the versions have fallen short of showing what characterizes them as superconductors.
The quest for “unidentified superconducting objects” (USOs) goes a long way back, but scientists caution that promising materials can fall apart under further examination, wrote Reuters.
Last week, the Korean Society of Superconductivity and Cryogenics said it would set up a committee to validate the claim. Moreover, two of the three authors involved in the LK-99 research, Sukbae Lee and Hyun-Tak Kim, have admitted flaws in the papers and said the articles were published without their permission.