Davide Castelvecchi, write for nature: A nature retraction last week put an end to the last claim regarding room-temperature superconductivity, in which researchers claimed to have made a material capable of conducting electricity without producing waste heat and without refrigeration. The retraction follows the failure of an even more brazen claim about a supposed superconductor called LK-99, which went viral on social media earlier this year. Despite these high-profile setbacks, superconductivity researchers say the field is experiencing something of a renaissance. “It’s not a dying field, quite the contrary,” says Lilia Boeri, a physicist specializing in computational predictions at La Sapienza University of Rome. These advances are fueled in part by new capabilities in computer simulations to predict the existence and properties of undiscovered materials.
Much of the enthusiasm focuses on “superhydrides,” hydrogen-rich materials that have shown superconductivity at ever-higher temperatures, as long as they are kept at high pressure. The subject of the retracted Nature paper was supposed to be such a material, composed of hydrogen, lutetium and nitrogen. But work in recent years has revealed several families of materials that could have revolutionary properties. “It really looks like we’re on the cusp of being able to find a lot of new superconductors,” says Paul Canfield, a physicist at Iowa State University in Ames and Ames National Laboratory.