Room Temperature Superconductivity: The Holy Grail of Physics

  Cutting-edge technologies are entering our field of vision at an unprecedented speed, affecting and even changing our lives. In 2023, after ChatGPT, the most popular technological term is “room temperature superconductivity”.
  Superconductivity is the phenomenon of zero electrical resistance. In 1911, Dutch physicist Onnes discovered that mercury has zero resistance at about -269°C, for which he won the 1913 Nobel Prize in Physics. Since then, people have discovered the huge application prospects of this strange phenomenon called superconductivity. If we can find materials with superconducting properties at room temperature and normal pressure, the world will usher in a disruptive technological revolution. For example, computer chips can run faster with lower energy consumption, and power grid transmission can be close to zero. losses, etc.
  The conditions for the realization of superconductivity are very harsh, requiring very low temperatures and extremely high pressures, which makes superconductivity unable to be applied in real life. Therefore, for more than 100 years, physicists have been searching for room temperature superconducting materials. However, although they continue to increase the temperature at which superconductivity is achieved, it is still far away from “room temperature”.
  Because of this, every breakthrough in room temperature superconductivity research will affect the nerves of the scientific community, industry and even the public. This year, room temperature superconductivity has been particularly exciting, but it has experienced “reversals” again and again. In March, a team led by American scientist Dias announced the discovery of a material with superconducting properties at about 10,000 times atmospheric pressure and room temperature. However, this discovery was quickly questioned by the academic community and now seems untrustworthy. On July 22, a Korean research team published a paper stating that they had discovered a material with superconducting properties at 127°C and normal pressure, LK-99, which immediately caused greater concern. sensation. The superconducting conditions given by Korean researchers are in line with people’s expectations for room temperature superconductivity, and the materials are low-cost and the synthesis method is simple. Once successful, it will be a milestone.
  After the release of this result, other researchers around the world followed up to verify it. However, judging from the current situation, although there are differences in experimental results, no researchers have successfully reproduced the experiments of the Korean research team, so LK-99 is most likely not the room-temperature superconducting material that people have been waiting for.
  In physics research, those extremely difficult goals are like the “Holy Grail.” The Higgs boson is the Holy Grail of particle physics but has finally been discovered; room temperature superconductivity is the Holy Grail of condensed matter physics. The application value of room-temperature superconductivity makes this holy grail very attractive to physicists and the public, but if we want to really find this holy grail, we may have to be patient and continue to wait.

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