Superconductivity, even at plus degrees: nature withdraws study

A look inside a diamond high-pressure cell: the material sample is extremely compressed and cooled by two conical diamonds. The researchers led by Ranga Dias used this method to induce superconductivity in a hydrogen-rich mixture at +15 degrees.
Image: Photo from University of Rochester / J. Adam Window

A dispute has broken out about an experiment in which superconductivity would have occurred in plus degrees. The renowned scientific magazine “Nature” has now withdrawn the study.

ESome scientists were immediately suspicious of what the researchers led by Ranga Dias of the University of Rochester reported two years ago in the renowned British magazine “Nature” and shortly after was declared the breakthrough of the year 2020 by its American counterpart “Science”. Dias and his colleagues caused a furore with the news that they had found the first superconductor that loses its electrical resistance even at temperatures above zero. Hopes for fantastic applications – lossless power grids or cheap magnets for MRT machines – were quickly aroused. With their mixture of carbon, sulfur and hydrogen, the researchers seemed to have actually broken the ‘sound barrier’ of superconductivity, even if only at extremely high pressures.

In any case, the presented measurement curves convinced the experts commissioned by “Nature”. But other scientists, such as controversial San Diego theorist Jorge Hirsch, have strong doubts. Especially the way in which the disturbing background in the measurement curves was corrected is a thorn in their side, because there is nothing about it in the original work. Meanwhile, the person responsible for “Nature” seems to have become too sensitive. Because they withdrew the study – under the protest of Dias and his comrades in arms, who are sticking to their results. You can come to her lab in Rochester anytime and see for yourself.

However, so far no other group has succeeded in reproducing the measurement curves. Hirsch, the sanctions against Dias don’t go far enough. To him, the supposed superconductivity is just an ordinary metallic state. However the Causa Dias develops, the oft-vilified research control mechanism seems to work well here.

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