A new material named LK-99 has been reported to demonstrate superconductivity at temperatures exceeding 100°C under normal atmospheric pressure. This remarkable finding is detailed in a paper by researchers at the Quantum Energy Research Institute in South Korea.
If verified, this discovery could pave the way for widespread adoption of room temperature superconductors. Such materials conduct electricity with zero resistance when cooled below their critical temperature. Conventional low-temperature superconductors require expensive liquid helium cooling, limiting applications. A material that is superconducting at room temperature could revolutionize electronics, transportation, and energy usage.
The researchers theorized that limiting electron motion to one dimension and increasing electron-electron interactions could raise the critical temperature. Their material discovery stemmed from investigations into apatite crystal structures containing lead, copper, sulfur and phosphorus.
Measurements found LK-99 maintains a superconducting state at temperatures up to 377K (104°C), far exceeding the previous confirmed record of 203K (-70°C). The results also showed characteristic signatures of superconductivity like zero electrical resistance, magnetic field effects, and a special heat capacity transition at the critical temperature.
If confirmed, room temperature superconductivity at ambient pressures could enable lossless power transmission, higher efficiency motors, maglev trains, advanced medical imaging equipment, quantum computing, and more. However, reproducibility and unambiguous proof of the phenomenon in LK-99 remain open questions. The researchers call for further intensive study to thoroughly characterize the material and electronic properties responsible for its remarkable conduction behavior.
This tantalizing discovery is the latest reminder that room temperature superconductors may yet be within our grasp, constituting one of the holy grails of modern materials science and condensed matter physics. The potential impacts on technology and energy use could be immense.