South Korean stocks linked to superconductors plunged Tuesday after a US-based research center rebutted claims of a sensational breakthrough in the technology, heaping pressure on scientists to validate those findings as soon as possible.
(Bloomberg) — South Korean stocks linked to superconductors plunged Tuesday after a US-based research center rebutted claims of a sensational breakthrough in the technology, heaping pressure on scientists to validate those findings as soon as possible.
The University of Maryland’s Condensed Matter Theory Center challenged claims made by the Seoul-based Quantum Energy Research Centre that it synthesized a material capable of conducting electricity with zero-resistance at room temperature and ambient pressure, known as LK-99.
The extraordinary reports have transfixed the world and energized the scientific community in recent weeks, driving rallies particularly in South Korea but also on Chinese bourses as investors pondered the ramifications for industries from energy to transportation.
“With a great deal of sadness, we now believe that the game is over. LK-99 is NOT a superconductor,” the US institution said on X, the social media platform previously known as Twitter. “It is a very highly resistive poor quality material.”
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The scathing review helped reverse a morning surge in superconductor-themed stocks, which emerged after South Korean experts said they expected to get a sample of LK-99 within weeks.
Duksung Co. fell 29%. Sunam Co., which has denied any connection with the research center amid wild swings in its share price, dived its 30% daily limit. South Korea’s Financial Supervisory Service also expressed concerns over the recent movements in certain stocks on the theme and increased margin stock trading.
Sukbae Lee and Ji-Hoon Kim at the Quantum Energy Research Centre made the claims about LK-99 last month in papers shared pre-publication, meaning the work hadn’t been reviewed by expert peers. The momentousness of the claims has spurred a global drive to replicate them as fast as possible.
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“The review process is expected to take two to four weeks,” the Korean Society of Superconductivity and Cryogenics said in an emailed response citing the research center, adding that there has been no additional communication since. The body said last week that it was “concerned” over the controversy generated by what it said were “unverified claims.”
In addition to obtaining the samples directly from Lee and Kim for verification, the KSSC said that another method was to replicate the materials as described in the paper and measure their superconductivity in ambient, room-temperature. Three different institutions are currently trying this method using materials they have obtained independently, they said.
The verification committee at KSSC is led by Kim Changyoung, a Seoul National University professor who is an expert in a related field.
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