A Potential Triumph in Physics, Dogged by Accusation and Doubt

Kit Chapman in Undark:

Within the past decade, scientists have discovered a class of materials that, at extreme pressures, show superconductivity at temperatures just a few tens of degrees below freezing, but the goal of a room-temperature superconductor has remained out of reach. In a paper published in the journal Nature on March 8, Dias and his colleagues reported they’d found a material, known as a lutetium hydride, that under high pressures can be superconducting at temperatures as high as 21 degrees Celsius, or nearly 70 degrees Fahrenheit — a discovery that many physicists describe as worthy of a Nobel Prize, if true.

But the physics community has been here with Dias before. In 2020, a similarly bold claim from Dias — of a material that became superconducting at around 15 degrees Celsius (59 Fahrenheit) — unleashed a torrent of critiques and accusations, ultimately leading to the paper’s retraction last fall. Dias’ fiercest critics say that he has committed research misconduct, possibly on more than one occasion, and that he has yet to be held fully accountable.

More here.