“Room Temperature Superconductor” LK-99, Just Maybe It Could Be Real

To have been alive over the last five decades is to have seen superconductors progress from only possible at near-absolute-zero temperatures, to around the temperature of liquid nitrogen in the 1980s and ’90s, and inching slowly higher as ever more exotic substances are made and subjected to demanding conditions. Now there’s a new kid on the block with an astounding claim of room-temperature and pressure superconductivity, something that has been a Holy Grail for physicists over many years.

LK-99 is a lead-copper-phosphate compound developed by a team from Korea University in Seoul. Its announcement was met with skepticism from the scientific community and the first attempts to replicate it proved unsuccessful, but now a team at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China claim to have also made LK-99 samples that levitate under a magnetic field at room temperature and pressure. This is corroborated by simulation studies that back up the Korean assertions about the crystal structure of LK-99, so maybe, just maybe, room temperature and pressure superconductors might at last be with us.

Floating on a magnetic field is cool as anything, but what are the benefits of such a material? By removing electrical resistance and noise from the equation they hold the promise of lossless power generation and conversion along with higher-performance electronics both analogue and digital, which would revolutionize what we have come to expect from electronics. Of course we’re excited about them and we think you should be too, but perhaps we’ll wait for more labs to verify LK-99 before we celebrate too much. After all, if it proves over-optimistic, it wouldn’t be the first time.

66 thoughts on ““Room Temperature Superconductor” LK-99, Just Maybe It Could Be Real

  1. has anyone reported being able to reproduce it yet? I know some people were trying, but I haven’t heard any success reports yet.

    until it can be reproduced, it’s interesting, but not yet exciting.

    1. Having something very similar debunked over a decade ago because of falsified data doesn’t seem promising. Although the conspiracy theorists in me jumps at the chance to wonder if someone didn’t decide the world wasn’t ready.

          1. To suppose any country would ban a room-temperature superconductor just because it uses lead is even less probable than the discovery of a room-temperature superconductor itself. The regions you name use enriched Uranium to generate some of their power, after all. Just saying.

    2. This article is about a Chinese lab reproducing (tentatively successfully) the results. It also mentioned Lawrence Berkeley which simulated the material and found it plausibly superconductive. Given it was just released friday this feels like pretty rapid and interesting progress. I was extremely skeptical friday and but it looks like its worth at least actively following for a bit.

        1. The difficulty with diamagnetism is that it arises in diamagnets for the same reason it arises in superconductors: paired-up electrons that are able to set up currents with no resistance to oppose the field.

          With regular diamagnets, those electrons are bound, and in superconductors, they aren’t. Depending on how the material works, it can be *really* difficult to separate the two with tiny samples. As I mentioned below, there have been a constant slow stream of papers over the past decade claiming that there’s room-temperature superconductivity in pyrolitic graphite as well, including some as recent as last year.

      1. I salute David Lang for not only not reading linked FA, but not reading TFS before stampeding to the post comment button. This is how we hackers roll!

        That’s how you ‘naysay’!
        Not when you’re skeptical about some dumb youtube video’s preposterous claim or shitty craft project disguised as a hack.

      2. The LBNL simulations did *not* find it “plausibly superconductive” – it’s better to say they found it “not obviously non-superconductive.” The flat band structure is often indicative of your simulation telling you that the geometry you’re simulating isn’t stable.

    3. Many many attempts being tracked here:

      And here:

      So far although there’s not been any massive successes, there’s been a few maybes and some very respected folks did simulation which suggested it *could* work, but getting it “pure” enough could be very tricky which may explain the difficulties people are having with replication.

      So – although scepticism is warranted, this has not so far been shot down in flaming ruins but rather there are lots of folks trying earnestly to replicate it and some fairly trustworthy data that suggests it might just be possible.

  2. It doesn’t appear to be overly difficult to produce from a home chemistry perspective. Although following relatively high a set temperature profile for three days might require a digital pottery kiln. It would be somewhat interesting to imagine being able to make this at home. It could certainly bring a whole new dimension to home made MRI scanners and mini fusion reactors. Not to mention ushering an era of things like low energy maglev trains.

      1. Already made some and it appears to work.
        If somebody can make it in their kitchen with sub-optimal equipment, proper labs will also be able to do it.
        Especially if they do it like Iris and consider the chemistry, not the published slightly incomplete procedure.
        Somebody clearly jumped the gun and pushed an incomplete draft of the paper to arxiv.

  3. My instincts are saying that conductive diamagnets are a *royal* pain to tell apart from a superconductor. The common “floating rock” example people use is pyrolitic graphite, which is 1) one of the strongest diamagnets known and 2) conductive, and 3) hey guess what, *also* has had people claiming it’s a room-temperature superconductor for the past 10+ years.

    1. “Plausoble” has pretty much exactly the same connotation to me as “Not obviously not ” so I don’t disagree. However, ill retain my opinion that it will be interesting to watch until its debunked 😀

    1. I believe that site is inviting me to install their “APP” (the only word I recognize in the popups) – yeah, no.

      But if it’s the video I saw elsewhere, with a guy wiggling a magnet inside a box while the flake sits on top, all I can say is this: it’s like a Bigfoot video, only without such clear focus and well-established shots.

      I want this to be true as much as I wanted cold fusion and the LAST round of “high-temperature” superconductors. Hey, at least ONE of those two panned out.

  4. I have a piece of pyrolytic graphite (a strong diamagnet) floating a mm above some Nd magnets for the better part of a decade in my office. So this image proves nothing other than strong diamagnetism. Superconductivity could be probed by flux trapping (i.e., see if the flake also is attracted to the magnet if you flip it over).

    1. Flux pinning isn’t really an intrinsic feature of superconductors: it’s engineered, by putting in slight defects to anchor the flux tubes in fixed spots.

      What you really want is to see the phase transition between the SC/ohmic region and see that both the current and susceptibility shift at the same point.

      Even that’s not a guarantee, though. It’s not an easy problem on small inhomogeneous samples.

  5. I am going to think positive and hope it is true. We know if it is true, it could lead to some real game changing applications. If not, back to drawing board, but at least someone is ‘trying’. Note in another website, it was mentioned as ‘yeah but’ what about forming into something useful, can it be shaped? etc. I would answer “who cares” at this point. If material is truly super conducting, it means room temp super conducting is possible, and if possible it leads to a better understanding of ‘why’ it is possible, which will lead to more breakthroughs, and probably more materials. I am all for that.

    1. Yep. I bet this is not the only related material with these properties.
      Just the first one discovered, so better and more manufacturable one’s might pop up in the future.
      It also seems to not use any rare-earths, which is also a big plus.

  6. Well, this was expected: EEVblog 1555 – Korean LK-99 Ambient Temperature Superconductor Demo Video FAIL!

    128,477 views Jul 28, 2023 #superconductor #ElectronicsCreators #korea
    Has a Korean quantum research group cracked the holy grail of physics, an ambient temperature and pressure superconductor that will win them a Nobel prize and change humanity forever? Maybe, maybe not. But one thing’s for sure, the demo video of their LK-99 material on their website is an EPIC FAIL! It’s such an embarrassing mistake you won’t believe it! Dave shows how with a single lab experiment.

    00:00 – This LK-99 ambient temperature & pressure superconductor is going to CHANGE THE WORLD!
    02:52 – Low but not zero resistance? I thought this was a superconductor?
    04:22 – Some journalists are actually doing their job this time
    06:28 – The Meissner effect
    07:11- Thunderf00t’s take
    08:06 – This demo video is just a total embarrassment! It’s just Lenz’s Law!
    10:36 – Let’s reproduce the demo video experiment!

    Go view it on Dave’s EEVblog YouTube channel where there are other interesting on-topic links to follow.

    Y’all have fun – hear?


    1. The video is well worth watching. Thunderf00t’s note that is, if this is really a superconductor, it still has limited use, as it would be a ceramic, not something that could easily be formed into wires/coils etc. It’s a pretty big if, I suspect that it isn’t a true superconductor.

      1. “it would be a ceramic, not something that could easily be formed into wires/coils etc.”

        we now routinely convert powder into all sorts of shapes, and in the initial paper they claim that they powdered and formed a solid mass that retained the superconductor properties, so why should we believe that nobody could figure out a way to make effective use of this material?

  7. Point of order: several labs have reproduced the material and found it levitates, but all have found it is diamagnetic. It is not expelling the magnetic field in the Meissner Effect like a superconductor does. None have found it’s a superconductor, resistance is 2-5 orders of magnitude too high, on par with good metals and some ceramics. Several have found semiconductor properties (does not preclude superconductivity). These aren’t confirmations but preliminary refutations.

    One group showed superconductivity under modeling, but it’s important to note that our models for this are not well developed – properly prepared copper is a superconductor under computer modeling and isn’t even theoretically possible.

    It’s important to note that the original claim is based only on magnetic levitation, which is not exclusively a trait of superconductors. The Korean team also found no Meissner Effect and measured a resistance of 10^-6 ohm-cms, ten thousand times worse than the maximum that still counts as a superconductor.

    It looks very unlikely right now, but the two biggest labs on it haven’t published yet (though one’s lead called the original paper “amateurish” and doesn’t think they know what a superconductor actually is).

    1. Diamagnetism *is* expelling the magnetic field. It’s just a question of magnitude: perfect superconductors have susceptibility of -1, diamagnets are typically 10^-5.

      The problem is that with an inhomogeneous material you don’t know if it’s a diamagnet or only a tiny portion is superconducting.

  8. I’ve heard the news. They called it “partial levitation” since part of the material was still touching the magnet. Well if that’s levitation, then I’m partially levitating at my desk right now. My feet are in the air. Only my butt is on my chair.

      1. It’s not homogenous. The “bulk” material after the process only appears to contain a small fraction of the diamagnetic material: in fact, they’ve identified it by smashing it to bits and finding the parts that respond to a magnet.

        So the reason it ends up being “partial” is that obviously the “smash to bits” method doesn’t result in a 100% pure sample.

    1. If the outcome of some research that has been funded makes you want to invest more money in more research that’s… well that’s great, isn’t it? Why say “funding grab” like it’s a dirty word?

  9. Stupid question – why can’t the connect a resistance meter and check?
    If producing is hard, Why can’t they split this first lump into few pieces and send to other labs to verify?

    1. My understanding is getting the copper to take the right place in the structure with the given method is suboptimal. Lots of lead apatite, not much lk-99. It needs a better process, but you want to verify its worth making a better process first. Given how easy (well, easy if you have your own vacuum furnace) it is to make the impure samples, there is no need to break up a sample and send it around. I suspect isolation of lk-99 should be relatively easy, break it up into powder, levitate the lk-99, get rid of the lead apatite beneath it, and there you have it. However, can you sinter lk-99? Will it lose its properties? or are you going to have to test tiny grains to determine if its worth looking into synthesizing pure samples? More questions than answers at this point, and in sintering messes it up, its probably going to take the big/well equipped labs to verify.

    2. “Stupid question – why can’t the connect a resistance meter and check?”

      With regard to the *original* piece from the Korean group, I don’t know.

      But with regard to the replication attempts – they’re producing *micron* sized flakes. They just aren’t large enough to actually do any kind of resistance attempt. The Korean group’s paper showed critical currents of like ~100 mA/cm^2-ish : so if you’re talking about micron-sized flakes you’re going to be talking about sub-milliamp test currents and sub-nanovolt measurement attempts. Just not possible.

      Trying to take the small flakes and make them into something bigger would be a next step, but the problem there is that it’s hard to know that you didn’t just destroy what you made.

  10. Seems to me from the videos they’ve only proven room temperature diamagnetism. That’s hardly novel. For proving super conducting I would expect a demonstration/measurement of electron conduction. Proof that it has (very near) zero resistance. None of that seems to have been tested (or if it has been, from the comments above I deduce it’s definitely not a super conductor.)

  11. All I’ve learned from the past 48 hours of news coverage on this is that suddenly everybody is an expert at superconductor physics. Did I miss the Ph.D. handout or something?

  12. “ Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” – Sagan
    Having worked with liquid helium cooled SC magnets ( PITAs ) in the late 70s, nitrogen cooled SC ceramics in the 90s, Iʻm waiting for an RTSC desk toy to replace my diamagnetic one. After a few decades of “ we have it!” Investor baiting, Iʻm skeptic until I see peer reviewed replication papers.

    1. Interesting note here, I came up with the idea of annealing in an electric field om a specific access wrt the crystal orientation similar to how piezoelectric materials are poled. In this case you’d need to do this under a specific gas mix as the oxidation level seems quite crucial.

  13. Many things have to come together for this “advance in technology” to become practical. For example, the idea of lossless power transmission only works if the material is sufficiently ductile to become wires and is sufficiently strong for long wires that will stretch tower-to-tower. (Yeah, I know about undergrounding and about span wires that are non-conductors.)

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