There was a public rush to dismiss the research papers and patent from a team of Korean researchers on a copper substituted lead apatite material called LK-99. This material was named after two of the researchers from something they initially discovered in 1999.
There was article from the MIT Technology Review listing the LK99 event of 2023 as one of the “worst technology failures of 2023. I would call the MIT Technology Review and a Nature LK-99 isn’t a superconductor — how science sleuths solved the mystery as the worst science and technology writing of 2023.
It is dismissed by MIT Technology Review as the Social media superconductor.
They describe any room-temperature superconductor as a material offering no electrical resistance. If it existed, it would make possible new types of batteries and powerful quantum computers, and bring nuclear fusion closer to reality. It’s a true Holy Grail.
The MIT article written by Antonio Regalado is a biomedicine reporter who has also worked as a political journalist and foreign reporter.
Antonio’s description of a generalized room temperature superconductor assumes that the hypothetical superconductor would be able to handle high levels of current for ultra-powerful magnets. This is true for some of the other commercialized superconductors. However, the LK-99 reports were that the effects only were working at low levels of current. Low current would mean not good for magnets, let alone powerful magnets. This would mean no impact for nuclear fusion. This would be like saying the Wright Brother’s flyer can fly so it must also be able to fly into space and go to the moon. A material having some important characteristics does not mean all limits are solved. A vaccine that can treat one form of cancer would be a huge breakthrough but it does not mean it could cure all cancer and all disease.
A more perfected form of a what was reported in the LK-99 work could work in thin film with low levels of current. This would be great for faster computer chips. The US military has funded research on using low-temperature superconductors for computers with a clock speed of 800 Gigahertz. This would be potentially 200 times faster. The military research is taking superconducting material that has made superconducting computer circuits and applying and perfecting that material for computers up to 200 times faster. Other advances could happen but it would take many more breakthroughs to eliminate other limitations of perfect room temperature superconductors for all of the desired and valuable use cases.
Antonio cites the Journal Nature article from August. LK-99 isn’t a superconductor — how science sleuths solved the mystery. The Nature article reports that German Max Planck researchers had conclusively answered everything about LK-99 by making pure crystals and finding several effects and readings could be the results of copper-Sulfide contamination.
This theory that everything about Lk99 was from copper-sulfide contamination. This would mean that a team of researchers including Hyun-tak Kim, could work with the Lk99 (discovered in 1999) materials for over 20 years and not figure out it was mainly copper-sulfide.
Hyun-tak Kim has dozens of published peer-reviewed articles. His top ten articles have 290-1621 citations each.
In 2004, Kim wrote a paper, “Mechanism and observation of Mott transition in VO2-based two-and three-terminal devices”.
Mott insulators are a class of materials that are expected to conduct electricity, but are actually insulators
. However, scientists have found ways to manipulate the electronic properties of Mott insulators to turn them into superconductors
. A Mott insulator is a material that has strong electron–electron interactions, which are not considered in conventional band theory
. A Mott transition is a transition from a metal to an insulator, driven by the strong interactions between electrons.
The cuprates, a class of high-temperature superconductors, are Mott insulators. They hold the record for the highest superconducting transition temperature at ambient pressure.
This explanation ignores that none of the bulk material readings made by the Koreans showed superconducting levels of resistance. The thin film LK-99 showed superconducting low resistance. 10,000 times lower resistance in the thin film form. None of the journal science nature “LK-99 Debunker”, made thin films of their LK-99 crystals.
The debunkers went – I will ignore your actual superconductance claim in thin-film and I will make crystals. I am going to disprove and debunk something you did not say to disparage what you did claim. The “debunkers” have not tried to make or disprove the thin film superconducting reading.
The Nature article also had one of the scientists of the team LK99 debunkers gloating that he could use this debunking of LK99 as an example for his physics students not to trust Density Function Theory simulations. Density Function theory supercomputer analysis and simulations were showing support that the LK99 type copper substituted lead apatite material was interesting and could become superconducting IF the forms were just right.
Lead apatite variants are showing signs of superconductivity. The signals are weak as the one-dimensional superconductivity is in a tiny fraction of the samples made. But they are showing in experiments from multiple teams in China and the original Korean team will present March 4, 2024 at APS. With video of a variant of the material with a full Meissner effect. Half of the original Korean team is in a new startup.
How do the “LK99-debunkers” and Copper Sulfate error theorists explain the new experimental results out of multiple teams in China? How will the debunkers explain full flux pinning that the original Korean team will show March 4, 2024? The Korean have made PCPOSOS which they claim is a Type-II superconductor.
Other teams of researchers are making experimental work that confirms evidence of superconductance in the same class of copper substituted lead apatite materials.
Lawrence Berkeley national lab continues to work on computational studies that indicate promising modifications with higher density copper. The sum of the visible and reported work is compelling in my view. I also believe this is the visible tip of an iceberg of continued work on copper substituted lead apatite. Lawrence Berkeley National Labs and others have continued computational quantum dynamics and DFT analysis supporting LK99. LBNL proposed higher copper doping.
IF the material does really work then the room temperature and room pressure aspect will make it easy for well funded large scale efforts to develop a useful level of purity… because it would mean the Korean team was not lying and already had half of a thin film superconducting. A thin film superconductor would be able to make one josephson junction for a squid magnetic field detector – an already commercially useful device. Billions would be spent to make 800 GHz computer chips which would be the logical result.
Different groups in China are getting experimental confirmation of indications of superconductance in LK99.
Possible Meissner Effect Near Room Temperature in Copper-substituted Lead Apatite – LK99 China Experiment.
Other Chinese Researchers Detected Superconducting Effects Via Microwave Absorption. All Superconductors Absorb Microwaves, so this is experimental evidence Supporting LK99 As Room Temperature Superconductor.
The original Korean LK99 team will present at APS March 4, 2024.
Abstract: A16.00002 : Partial levitation, type-II-superconductor characteristic, at room temperature and atmospheric pressure in PCPOSOS
We synthesized materials, Pb10-xCux(P(O1-ySy)4)6O1-zSz (PCPOSOS), called PCPOSOS, which exhibit superconducting behavior at room temperature and atmospheric pressure. These materials displayed characteristics of a superconductor, including zero resistance, the Meissner effect, and partial levitation when placed on a magnet (arXiv: 2307.12037). The partial levitation is caused by an inhomogeneity in the magnetic field of the magnet and occurred within the range of critical magnetic fields, Hc1 and Hc2. That is, the magnetic field of the magnet increased with going from center to the edge of magnet. The magnet had approximately 2000G at the center and approximately 3,000G at its edge. The levitation occurred near center. This indicates the center of the magnet is close to Hc1. It disappeared between center and the edge near Hc2, with Hc1 being much smaller than Hc2, because the magnetic moment at Hc2 is much smaller than that at Hc1. When the magnet is slightly moved, the levitation returns to its original position. This phenomenon is analyzed as flux pinning, which is typical of a type-II superconductor. Moreover, the quantum-locking phenomenon, characteristic of a Type-I superconductor, may appear. However, we interpret PCPOSOS as a Type-II superconductor. We will show two videos of levitations and two videos of magnets.
Pro-LK99 and Anti-LK99 Showdown at March 2024 APS Conference
There will be another presentation at the conference. This will be by Paul Chu and his Houston team. They will show that they think LK99 is all because of Copper Sulfide. Paul is a famous for his work with YCBO superconductors.
The unique simultaneous appearance of zero resistivity and magnetic field expulsion enable superconductors to have tremendous potential for various applications, such as efficient electric power transmission, much smaller or more powerful magnets, magnetic levitation, high-speed computing, etc. The superconducting critical transition temperature has continuously been enhanced owing to the century-old effort at superconductivity. It appears that all record high Tcs since 1994 have been achieved in compounds under very high pressure. The ultimate goal in the superconductivity field is to find a way to retain a coherent quantum state under ambient conditions, i.e., room temperature of ~ 300 K and atmospheric pressure. We have studied LK-99 [Pb10-x Cux(PO4)6O], alleged by Lee et al. to exhibit superconductivity at room temperature and ambient pressure, and have reproduced all the anomalies except for half-levitation they reported as evidence for the claim of LK-99 being an ambient-pressure, room-temperature superconductor. We found that these anomalies are associated with the structural transition of the Cu2S impurity in their sample and not with superconductivity.
The YCBO related superconducting wire market is worth about $1-2 billion per year.
Back in 1989, Du Pont agreed to pay the University of Houston $1.5 million immediately and $3 million later for rights to an as yet ungranted patent on a promising new (YCBO) material.
Paul Submitted an Incorrect YCBO Paper in 1987 to Ensure His Patent Claim Would be Valid
Like any proper American inventor, Chu immediately filed for a patent. At the same time, being a good scientist, he sent a report to his peers, in this instance by way of Physical Review Letters, the weekly worldwide bulletin board of professional physicists. The first act conferred proprietary ownership and the second, scientific legitimacy on his work. An awkward problem, however, was that under then-current schedules, they occurred in reverse order. His discovery was in danger of being proclaimed before it could be profitably claimed.
Chu submitted to Physical Review Letters a report that used the chemical symbol for ytterbium, Yb, in every place that the symbol for yttrium, Y, should have been used. The typographical error occurred 24 times in the report. The patent application, on the other hand—though concerned with the same subject, prepared by the same office, and submitted at the same time—did not suffer from a single such mistake.
The patent on the first high-temperature superconductor was filed on January 12, 1987, more than a month before Chu’s formal announcement of success (at which he refused to divulge the chemical formula). Promptly upon its acceptance, Chu phoned the offices of Physical Review Letters to inform them that the paper he had previously submitted had an error. It was corrected in time for publication on March 2.
LK99 Class Materials Only Have Real Disruptive Value if They Are Real and Work
The lazy and the ignorant talk about the tens of millions of social media views or the article clicks. The scientists get no monetization from the social media or the articles in the NY Times (Pro or Anti).
The value is actually making the businesses and products out of the new materials. The destruction of value would come from new LK99-class or inspired materials making further breakthroughs to displace YCBO for high energy current and magnet applications.
Old Guard already successful scientists in the YCBO and nobium superconducting areas could have business and patent interests that would be harmed by the success of LK99. Paul Chu did submit an incorrect paper into Physical Review Letters for YCBO related financial interests. Is it possible for some superconducting scientists to against mislead the community for financial reasons? Was it Ytterbium or Yttrium?
How would replications have gone in 1987 if Paul Chu had left the Ytterbium error in the Physical Review Letter paper?
Real room temperature superconductor would be a bigger prize than YCBO superconductors.
We are also seeing glimpses of part of what is happening from experts who have more complex goals than just getting published papers correct. The LK99 and copper substituted lead apatite researchers are motivated to get sufficient interest in themselves and their work to get private funding.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.
Source : Next Big Future