What are they and why are they on everyone’s lips?

First of all, we must know that it is a conductor of electricity. Any material that offers little resistance to the movement of an electric charge is considered a conductor. Basically, we have materials such as gold, silver, aluminum, tin or copper as the main current conductors, although there are others.

The problem is that they “offer little resistance.” What it means is that a part of the electricity that runs through this conductive material is lost as heat. We have silver as the conductor with least resistance, followed by gold and copper.

What is a superconductor?

They are materials that allow conduct an electric current without resistance and therefore without loss of energy. This property was discovered by the Dutch physicist, Heike Kamerlingh Onnes in 1911.

The resistance in superconductors is zero, something that is not the case with “normal” conductors. We can say that the electric current flows by the superconducting material infinitely without a power supply. It would be a property similar to ferromagnetism or pure magnets that allow ferrous elements to be attracted without the need for electrical induction.

Within these materials we have two categories:

  • Type I: It does not allow an external magnetic field to penetrate them, something that takes a great energetic effort. It can generate an abrupt state break if the critical temperature is exceeded
  • Type II: Also called “imperfect superconductors” since the field penetrates through channels that are called “Abrikoso vortices” or “fluxons”

Something very interesting about superconductors is that they can have an added property such as levitation. Which adds many more possibilities to these materials.

superconductor magnetic levitation

Main problems of superconductors

The theory is all very well and sounds great, but they have big problems behind them. Specifically, these are its big problems:

  • Temperature: habitually require temperatures between -100 ºC and absolute zero (0ºK / −273.15 °C / −459.67 °F)
  • Pressure: those that allow operating in higher temperature ranges, require high pressure. Some may need about 100,000 atmospheres terrestrial
  • Costs: developing them, manufacturing them and “making them work” is a very slow and expensive process

Without a doubt, the first two are the most pressing to be resolved. Having a material that does not need a specific and highly controlled environment allows us to dramatically reduce costs. Furthermore, it could be applied to a large number of different uses and environments.

LK-99: the perfect superconductor?

The two big obstacles to be overcome by superconductors, in the first place, are the temperature and pressure of “operation”. Subsequently, solutions will be developed for its mass production and lower manufacturing costs.

A group of South Korean researchers has discovered the LK-99 superconductor. Said material is a combination of lanarkite and copper phosphide minerals.

It’s news because his property of superconducting se maintains up to 127ºC already one normal atmospheric pressure. Under these normal conditions the material It features zero resistance and magnetic levitation. And if that was not enough, it is achieved through a really simple cooking process.

lk-99 superconductor

It has a big drawback and it is that at high temperatures would not be able to carry large currents. It would be a limitation for many applications.

Now there are many teams of scientists around the world working to verify this discovery. You should know that any great discovery must be refuted by other groups of scientists with the same conditions.

At the moment, it seems that the data is consistent and the first simulations would verify the discovery. Although, we emphasize, different groups of researchers need to synthesize and test it. Whether end up confirmingwould mean the Instant Nobel Prize Winningas the PhD in Organic Chemistry from Duke University in North Carolina, United States, points out in Science.


The LK-99 superconductor would change the world as we know it today. We could generate batteries that never discharge, high-speed trains that levitate on the tracks, or power grids without losses. It could also generate great changes in medicine, nuclear energy or quantum computing, among other fields.

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