A part of LK-99 is elevated on a magnet. A South Korean private research lab said that the compound is a room-temperature superconductor. Photo captured from Quantum Energy Research Center’s video footage

Representative academic entity to work on the hot-button issue

A South Korean scholarly association announced on Aug. 3 that they would form a dedicated committee to verify controversies about the controversial discovery of a room-temperature superconductor.

Toward that end, the Korean Society of Superconductivity and Cryogenics (KSSC) said that its experts had already required Quantum Energy Research Center here to offer samples.

The Quantum Center, a private research lab in Seoul, claimed late last month that it had synthesized a room-temperature superconductor to attract great attention both at home and abroad.

Back then, the center disclosed two research papers without going through the peer-reviewing process and publication in a scientific journal, contending that its new substance LK-99 works as a superconductor at room temperature and ambient pressure.

It also posted a video clip showing the compound levitating over a magnet, a crucial feature of a superconductor,

Superconductors refer to materials, which allow electrical current to flow with no resistance. Such a property is expected to revolutionize power grids, the computer chip business, and quantum computing.

However, superconductivity has been realized only at extremely low temperatures or under huge pressure, thus limiting their real-world applications.

“As the representative academic association in the field, the KSSC is set to respond to the controversy and unverified claims over the past few days by setting up a verification committee,” the KSSC said in a statement.

The new committee will be chaired by Physics Professor Kim Chang-young at Seoul National University. Comments from the professor were not available.

Still, the skepticism lingers among many experts, who argue that the data given by Quantum Center is not enough to convince them.

“A room-temperature superconductor is a long-sought holy grail of physics to transform everyday life, but it has been very elusive,” senior scientist Lee Yong-ho at the Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science said.

“LK-99 appears to show some characteristics of a superconductor. But that’s not sufficient at all to confirm its superconductivity. Close examinations are necessary.”

It is not sure whether the Korean scientists really succeeded in synthesizing an ambient superconductor. But the investor frenzy is felt in the country’s stock market.

The share price of Sunam, a superconductivity company in Korea, more than tripled in the nation’s stock exchange over the past week so that its trading was banned Friday.

The stock value of Duksung also more than doubled this week, although it is not closely related to the superconductivity business.