Researchers at Quantum energy research center, Korea and KU-KIST, Korea University claim to have made a breakthrough by discovering room temperature superconductivity at ambient pressure in a material named LK-99. The paper has been submitted for publication and is also available in open access archive arXiv (video proof). It is yet to be validated by the scientific community but nonetheless it is a huge stride in superconductivity research.

First room temperature superconductivity at ambient pressure
First room temperature superconductivity at ambient pressure

Is this THE BREAKTHROUGH? First room temperature superconductivity at ambient pressure achieved!

I, as a physicist myself thought room temperature superconductivity was not this close and was not very optimistic about this achievement in near future.  But discoveries are made in an instant and they transform everything, isn’t it? For instance, graphene, wasn’t it the same with it? It was the discovery with scotch tape and graphite.

Likewise, this new material called LK-99, modified lead-apatite was discovered by researchers Sukbae Lee, Ji-Hoon Kim and Young-Wan Kwon (Authors of the paper) at Quantum energy research center, Korea and Korea University. At the moment, the results show the presence of superconductivity with some measurement but it has to be confirmed with some more evidences, since this is something massive. Going through I found the evidences but more rigorous study of the phenomena is yet to be performed to assign the title superconductivity. But still, the validation of this can be worthy enough for a Nobel prize.

Why is room temperature superconductivity at ambient pressure a big deal?

Superconductivity means conducting without any loss of energy. Every normal conductor looses charge due to the resistance produced by the charge within the materials, however most of the materials when cooled below a temperature called critical temperature attain superconductivity. But this temperature is close to absolute zero temperature, i.e. -273.15 degree Celsius. So, world scientific community is in search for room temperature superconductivity for quite long time. For further insight on superconductivity and Meissner effect can be found in our article about quantum levitation here. For now let’s go through three major benefits of room temperature superconductivity.

1. Quantum computers

One of the major advantage of room temperature and ambient pressure superconductivity is the impact it can have in quantum computer research. A deeper understanding of this zero loss current at room temperature might provide us the information about controlling the electronic states at room temperature in future and overcome the low temperature requirement of processing quantum information.

2. Quantum levitation

Quantum levitation is the levitation of a superconducting material over a magnetic field either because it does not allow magnetic field to pass through it or it requires a large magnetic field which locks it in a field. The types of superconductor and the idea of quantum levitation can be found in our quantum levitation article. It is the ultimate dream of scientists which can revolutionize the transportation world. It can make hover board from back to the future and other levitating vehicles from futuristic movies possible. The idea is far-fetched but not if this material proves to be the ONE.

3. Zero energy loss transmission lines

Zero loss transmission lines can comprise of superconducting wires, where there is no loss of electricity at all and the energy distribution is efficient. This can make transmission of electricity highly efficient allowing a large quantity of energy saving. Also it can completely replace the use of transformers, which are used for varying the voltage and current to lower heat loss, allowing us to distribute electricity in more cost effective way.

In addition to these, there are multiple benefits of the magnetic property of superconductors which can be used in various magnetic accelerators, spectrometers, turbines and magnetic machines. The impact of this discovery can be massive. We just have to wait and see about the analysis from experts and the actual fruit this finding has to offer.

Ashwin Khadka is a PhD Scholar in Nano Energy and Thermofluid Lab in Korea University, Republic of Korea under Korean Government Scholarship Program. He has a Masters Degree in Physics from Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal. He is a science enthusiast, researcher and writer.