Nature Retracts Room-Temperature Superconductor Discovery

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Nature, probably the most prestigious journals in scientific publishing, on Tuesday retracted a high-profile paper it had printed in March that claimed the invention of a superconductor that labored at on a regular basis temperatures.

It was the second superconductor paper involving Ranga P. Dias, a professor of mechanical engineering and physics on the College of Rochester in New York State, to be retracted by the journal in simply over a 12 months. It joined an unrelated paper retracted by one other journal through which Dr. Dias was a key creator.

Dr. Dias and his colleagues’ analysis is the newest in a protracted listing of claims of room-temperature superconductors which have did not pan out. However the retraction raised uncomfortable questions for Nature about why the journal’s editors publicized the analysis after they’d already scrutinized and retracted an earlier paper from the identical group.

A spokesman for Dr. Dias mentioned that the scientist denied allegations of analysis misconduct. “Professor Dias intends to resubmit the scientific paper to a journal with a extra impartial editorial course of,” the consultant mentioned.

First found in 1911, superconductors can appear virtually magical — they conduct electrical energy with out resistance. Nonetheless, no recognized supplies are superconductors in on a regular basis situations. Most require ultracold temperatures, and up to date advances towards superconductors that perform at larger temperatures require crushing pressures.

A superconductor that works at on a regular basis temperatures and pressures might discover use in M.R.I. scanners, novel digital gadgets and levitating trains.

Superconductors unexpectedly turned a viral matter on social networks over the summer time when a distinct group of scientists, in South Korea, additionally claimed to have found a room-temperature superconductor, named LK-99. Inside a few weeks, the thrill died away after different scientists have been unable to substantiate the superconductivity observations and got here up with believable various explanations.

Though it was printed in a high-profile journal, Dr. Dias’s declare of a room-temperature superconductor didn’t set off euphoria like LK-99 did as a result of many scientists within the area already regarded his work with doubt.

In the Nature paper printed in March, Dr. Dias and his colleagues reported that they’d found a fabric — lutetium hydride with some nitrogen added — that was capable of superconduct electrical energy at temperatures of as much as 70 levels Fahrenheit. It nonetheless required strain of 145,000 kilos per sq. inch, which isn’t troublesome to use in a laboratory. The fabric took on a pink hue when squeezed, main Dr. Dias to nickname it “reddmatter” after a substance in a “Star Trek” film.

Lower than three years earlier, Nature printed a paper from Dr. Dias and most of the similar scientists. It described a distinct materials that they mentioned was additionally a superconductor though solely at crushing pressures of almost 40 million kilos per sq. inch. However different researchers questioned a few of the information within the paper. After an investigation, Nature agreed, retracting the paper in September 2022 over the objections of the authors.

In August of this 12 months, the journal Bodily Evaluate Letters retracted a 2021 paper by Dr. Dias that described intriguing electrical properties, though not superconductivity, in one other chemical compound, manganese sulfide.

James Hamlin, a professor of physics on the College of Florida, advised Bodily Evaluate Letters’ editors that the curves in one of many paper’s figures describing electrical resistance in manganese sulfide regarded much like graphs in Dr. Dias’s doctoral thesis that described the conduct of a distinct materials.

Exterior specialists enlisted by the journal agreed that the info regarded suspiciously related, and the paper was retracted. Not like the sooner Nature retraction, all 9 of Dr. Dias’s co-authors agreed to the retraction. Dr. Dias was the lone holdout and maintained that the paper precisely portrayed the analysis findings.

In Could, Dr. Hamlin and Brad J. Ramshaw, a professor of physics at Cornell College, despatched editors at Nature their issues in regards to the lutetium hydride information within the March paper.

After the retraction by Bodily Evaluate Letters, a lot of the authors of the lutetium hydride paper concluded that the analysis from their paper was flawed too.

In a letter dated Sept. 8, eight of the 11 authors requested for the Nature paper to be retracted.

“Dr. Dias has not acted in good religion in regard to the preparation and submission of the manuscript,” they advised the Nature editors.

The writers of the letter included 5 latest graduate college students who labored in Dr. Dias’s lab, in addition to Ashkan Salamat, a professor of physics on the College of Nevada, Las Vegas, who collaborated with Dr. Dias on the 2 earlier retracted papers. Dr. Dias and Dr. Salamat based Unearthly Supplies, an organization that was meant to show the superconducting discoveries into business merchandise.

Dr. Salamat, who was the corporate’s president and chief government, is now not an worker there. He didn’t reply to a request for touch upon the retraction.

Within the retraction discover printed on Tuesday, Nature mentioned that the eight authors who wrote the letter in September expressed the view that “the printed paper doesn’t precisely replicate the provenance of the investigated supplies, the experimental measurements undertaken and the data-processing protocols utilized.”

The problems, these authors mentioned, “undermine the integrity of the printed paper.”

Dr. Dias and two different authors, former college students of his, “haven’t acknowledged whether or not they agree or disagree with this retraction,” the discover mentioned. A Nature spokeswoman mentioned they didn’t reply to the proposed retraction.

“This has been a deeply irritating scenario,” Karl Ziemelis, the chief editor for utilized and bodily sciences at Nature, mentioned in a press release.

Mr. Ziemelis defended the journal’s dealing with of the paper. “Certainly, as is so typically the case, the extremely certified skilled reviewers we chosen raised numerous questions in regards to the authentic submission, which have been largely resolved in later revisions,” he mentioned. “That is how peer evaluation works.”

He added, “What the peer-review course of can not detect is whether or not the paper as written precisely displays the analysis because it was undertaken.”

For Dr. Ramshaw, the retraction offered validation. “If you end up trying into another person’s work, you all the time wonder if you’re simply seeing issues or overinterpreting,” he mentioned.

The disappointments of LK-99 and Dr. Dias’s claims might not deter different scientists from investigating doable superconductors. Twenty years in the past, a scientist at Bell Labs, J. Hendrik Schön, printed a sequence of putting findings, together with novel superconductors. Investigations confirmed that he had made up most of his information.

That didn’t stymie later main superconductor discoveries. In 2014, a gaggle led by Mikhail Eremets, of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany, confirmed that hydrogen-containing compounds are superconductors at surprisingly heat temperatures when squeezed underneath ultrahigh pressures. These findings are nonetheless broadly accepted.

Russell J. Hemley, a professor of physics and chemistry on the College of Illinois Chicago who adopted up Dr. Eremets’s work with experiments that discovered one other materials that was additionally a superconductor at ultrahigh strain situations, continues to consider Dr. Dias’s lutetium hydride findings. In June, Dr. Hemley and his collaborators reported that they’d additionally measured the obvious vanishing {of electrical} resistance in a pattern that Dr. Dias had offered, and on Tuesday, Dr. Hemley mentioned he remained assured that the findings could be reproduced by different scientists.

After the Bodily Evaluate Letters retraction, the College of Rochester confirmed that it had began a “complete investigation” by specialists not affiliated with the varsity. A college spokeswoman mentioned that it had no plans to make the findings of the investigation public.

The College of Rochester has eliminated YouTube movies it produced in March that featured college officers lauding Dr. Dias’s analysis as a breakthrough.

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