LK-99 Is crazy and could make batteries insane! TL;DR at bottom…

LK-99: The Proposed Superconductor That Stirred the Scientific World



LK-99, a gray-black polycrystalline compound identified as a copper-doped lead-oxy apatite, has recently become the center of attention in the scientific community. This compound, originating from research conducted at Korea University, was initially studied as a potential superconductor. But what exactly is LK-99, and why has it caused such a stir?

Discovery and Claims

The research on LK-99 began in 1999 by a team led by Lee Sukbae and Kim Ji-Hoon. In 2023, they published preprints claiming that LK-99 acts as a room-temperature superconductor at temperatures of up to 400 K (127 °C; 260 °F) at ambient pressure.

The initial excitement was met with skepticism as various labs attempted to replicate the work. While the process of producing the material was relatively straightforward, the consensus as of August 2023 is that LK-99 is an insulator in pure form, not a superconductor at any temperature.

Synthesis and Structure

LK-99’s chemical composition is approximately PbCu(PO4)O, with a structure similar to apatite. The synthesis involves three steps, including the production of lanarkite and copper(I) phosphide, followed by a heating process. However, there were reported problems with the synthesis, including unbalanced reactions and fragmentary results.

LK-99 Is crazy

LK-99 Is crazy

Physical Properties

Some samples of LK-99 were reported to show strong diamagnetic properties, including partial levitation over a magnet. This was widely interpreted as a sign of superconductivity, although it is more commonly a sign of regular diamagnetism or ferromagnetism.

Proposed Mechanism for Superconductivity

The proposed mechanism for superconductivity in LK-99 involves the partial replacement of Pb2+ ions with smaller Cu ions, causing a reduction in volume and creating internal stress. This stress is proposed to cause a heterojunction quantum well, generating a superconducting quantum well (SQW).

Response and Controversy

The initial studies announcing LK-99 were met with skepticism. On 31 July 2023, Sinéad Griffin of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory analyzed LK-99 with density functional theory (DFT), showing that its structure would have correlated isolated flat bands, suggesting a contribution to superconductivity. However, other researchers disagreed, noting experimental and theoretical shortcomings.

The name LK-99 comes from the initials of discoverers Lee and Kim, and the year of discovery (1999). The publication history includes submissions to Nature, patent applications, and various preprints.


LK-99 has undoubtedly stirred the scientific world with its initial claims of room-temperature superconductivity. However, the lack of successful replications and various inconsistencies have led to more questions than answers. The ongoing research and debate surrounding LK-99 serve as a reminder of the complex and often contentious nature of scientific discovery.

For more detailed information, you can refer to the [Wikipedia page on LK-99].

LK-99 Is crazy

TL;DR: A Quick Summary

LK-99 is a material that some scientists thought could conduct electricity without any resistance at room temperature, which would be a big deal! But when other scientists tried to do the same experiments, they couldn’t get it to work the same way. Now, there’s a lot of debate about what LK-99 really is and if it can do what was first claimed. The name comes from the initials of the scientists who discovered it and the year they started working on it. This whole story shows how exciting and sometimes confusing science can be, and how important it is to test and retest new ideas.

If LK-99 were to be successfully developed as a room-temperature superconductor, it could revolutionize the way we think about battery life in devices like iPhones and iPads. Superconductors allow electric current to flow without any resistance, meaning that no energy is lost as heat. By incorporating LK-99 into the battery technology of these devices, it could enable a much more efficient energy flow, dramatically extending battery life. Imagine charging your iPhone or iPad and having it last for weeks or even months without needing a recharge! While the current understanding of LK-99 is still under debate and its application in consumer electronics is purely theoretical at this stage, the potential implications for longer-lasting batteries are incredibly exciting.

Thanks for reading!