Scientists doubt viral superconductor claims

Scientists doubt viral superconductor claims

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Superconductors kept at temperatures as low as -250C already have many uses, including MRI medical scanners, the Large Hadron Collider and some high-speed levitating trains in Japan.

If the world does stumble upon a true room-temperature superconductor, perhaps the biggest impact will be on the electrical grid.

Currently, 10-15 per cent of electricity is lost due to the flow of energy from power stations to homes.

The amount of energy saved by a room-temperature superconductor could therefore be equivalent to “removing one or two nuclear reactors in France,” said French physicist Brigitte Leridon.

So how likely is it that LK-99 is the material that took scientists 120 years to discover?

Speller said he would be “quite surprised” if LK-99 turned out to be a room-temperature superconductor, adding: “None of the evidence I’ve seen so far is convincing.”

Superconductivity expert Amalia Coldia at Oxford told AFP that “so far, I’m not convinced”.

Even if it turns out that LK-99 is a room-temperature superconductor, “it may not be the answer to all our technological desires anyway,” Speler stressed.

The material, a mineral called apatite that has some lead atoms replaced by copper atoms, is more like the ceramic in a tea cup than a metal, he said, meaning it would be difficult to twist into useful wires.

As for LK-99, further tests are expected to reveal more about its superconducting abilities in the coming weeks – although a definitive answer may take some time.

British scientist Toby Perring said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

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