Deep Dives

'LK-99' trend sparks superconductors market frenzy

August 5, 2023
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The excitement around superconductors has recently escalated due to claims of breakthroughs in the field, resulting in volatile stocks and viral videos. Researchers in South Korea and Virginia reported the creation of the LK-99 crystal, a room-temperature, ambient pressure superconductor. These claims, although not yet fully verified, have generated widespread interest due to their potential impact on various industries, including chips, power grids, and computing systems.

Claimed Breakthrough in Superconductors:
  • Scientists from South Korea and Virginia's William & Mary have released two academic papers claiming the creation of the LK-99 crystal.
  • The crystal is a superconductor that operates at room temperature and ambient pressure, potentially leading to advancements in various tech industries.
  • The validity of these claims is still under scrutiny, as they have not undergone peer review.

  • Market Impact:
  • Following these claims, share prices surged for companies associated with superconductors in the U.S., China, and South Korea.
  • Despite a late-week reversal in gains, the overall interest in superconductor-linked stocks has remained high.
  • Some companies that don't have a direct link to superconductors also saw share price increases, reflecting the market excitement around this potential scientific breakthrough.

  • Scepticism and Scrutiny:
  • Several scientists remain skeptical about the claims, stating the need for the results to be replicated and verified by other groups.
  • The claims have ignited discussions about the potential of room-temperature superconductors and highlighted the public's limited understanding of this technology.
  • Previous reports of similar superconducting objects have also faced criticism and require rigorous verification.

  • Verification Efforts:
  • Efforts are underway to verify the claims about the LK-99 superconductor, led by teams like Argonne.
  • Initial verification attempts have had mixed results, with some supporting the claims in theory and others suggesting the material doesn't show signs of bulk superconductivity at room temperature.

  • Stock Market Reactions:
  • Several little-known South Korean companies presumed to be linked with superconductors experienced volatile stock swings.
  • Even companies without direct involvement in superconductors, like Shinsung Delta Tech, saw stock gains due to investment connections with the Quantum Research Institute.
  • Similar stock market reactions were noted among U.S. and Chinese companies, including those that clarified they had no current work related to room-temperature superconductivity.

  • Implications and Next Steps:
  • If LK-99 proves to be a superconductor, there are still significant steps required to commercialize this technology.
  • Engineers need to figure out how to integrate this material into their products, a complex process that is yet to begin.
  • Despite the skepticism, if validated, superconductors could revolutionize product design in numerous electronics, making current thermal systems, optical fibers, and wires unnecessary.
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