December 2, 2023
A magazine that does not publish the discovery of superconductors at room temperature

A magazine that does not publish the discovery of superconductors at room temperature


Technology Innovation Website Editor – 09/27/2022

Experiment on superconductivity

The experiment was conducted on a small walrus laboratory, called the Diamond Anvil.
[Imagem: Nature]

Superconductivity questionable

In 2020, physicists from three North American universities published an article, chosen to be the cover of Nature, in which they claimed to have achieved a long-awaited achievement: getting Superconductivity at room temperature.

A superconductor is one that conducts electricity with a resistance that tends to zero, and in materials known to have this property, superconductivity appears only at extremely cold temperatures. Thus, a room-temperature superconductor could revolutionize almost our entire society, entirely dependent on electricity.

Now, however, in an unusual move in the scientific community, the editors of Nature itself have decided to unpublish the article, a procedure known as unpublishing.

“The editors of Nature would like to withdraw this paper. Upon publication, questions were raised about the way the data from this paper was processed and analyzed, which the authors and Nature are working on. We have now demonstrated that some of the steps in the data processing—that is, the background subtractions applied to the The raw data used to generate the magnetic susceptibility plots in Figure 2a and the extended data in Figure 7d—I used a standard user-defined procedure,” the journal justified.

Although retractions are common, the procedure is less common when the authors of the alleged discovery disagree with the article’s criticisms and reservations, maintaining their conclusions.

“The authors emphasize that the raw data provide strong support for the main claims of the original paper. However, we consider that these processing issues undermine confidence in the published magnetic susceptibility data as a whole, and therefore we withdraw all authors who expressly express their views on the regression in disagreement,” Nature magazine acknowledged.

magnetic susceptibility

Although we always talk about conductivity without electrical resistance, the drop in resistance alone is not a sufficient measure to prove that a material is superconducting: in addition, it is necessary for the material to generate an outward magnetic flux field.

It was this analogy that was questioned and caused the article to be withdrawn. Since the experiment is performed on a diamond anvil, making a direct measurement of the magnetic field becomes very complex. Therefore, it is common in the field to measure a related quantity, called magnetic susceptibility, which is a dimensionless proportionality constant that assesses the magnetization ability of a material in response to a magnetic field applied to it.

The article’s authors failed to convince the editors of Nature that this measurement followed good scientific practice. In addition, other researchers claimed that they were unable to reproduce the results, although they admit that this may be due to the fact that the team did not share the data from their experiment with the necessary transparency.

Scenes from the following chapters

The team announced that it would withdraw the procedures criticized by nature and resubmit the article for publication, since, in their opinion, the absence of this data does not invalidate their main claim to obtain superconductivity at 15 ° C. He already has another article, published by another magazine, that claims he got a Superconductor at room temperature under lower pressure Than in the experience pictured now.

Now wait to see if the reviewers and the journal itself will agree to republish the article. It sounds difficult, but there are precedents. It’s good not to forget that The discovery of quasicrystals, winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistrysat on the shelf for decades: his author Dan Shechtman was ridiculed, his work was rejected by scientific journals, and he was expelled from his research group, until his work was finally recognized.

Maybe history repeats itself, maybe not. The fact is that we, at least for the time being, are back to the previous stage, of expecting the discovery of superconducting materials at room temperature.


Article: Room temperature superconductivity in carbonic sulfur hydride
Authors: Elliot Snyder, Nathan Dusenbrook Gammon, Raymond McBride, Matthew Debisay, Hiranya Vindana, Kevin Ventkatasami, Keith V. Lawler, Ashkan Salamat, Ranga B. Dias
Magazine: Nature
Volume: 586, pages 373-377
DOI: 10.1038 / s41586-020-2801-z

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