Thursday, September 15, 2005

Room Temperature Superconductors Inc.

In the following, I'm not making any evaluations of zero point energy or "type 3" superconductors; however, this story is quite relevant to why a 2005 Harvard Law Review article is dead wrong on the facts. More on that later, and in the October 2005 issue of Intellectual Property Today ("Things are not always what they seem to be")

The zpenergy website has the text:

Room Temperature Superconductors Inc. CEO Mark Goldes has become an evangelist for what he believes is a new "Type 3" superconductor. Room Temperature Superconductors holds two (actually 3) U.S. patents on the technology and has product plans for using it.

The U.S. Air Force was interested in the possibilities for the compound, and Goldes eventually got four Small Business Innovative Research grants to develop applications. "We eventually moved Grigorov and his lab over here," he related. "That included 26 crates of lab equipment and a very sensitive magnetic balance, which has been critical in studying the superconductive properties of these polymers."

Subsequent work has shown that a number of polymers exhibit similar conducting capabilities: olefin, acrylate, urethane and silicone-based plastics. But the advent of this new class of highly conductive polymers has not set off a stampede of research similar to what happened when high-critical-temperature superconductors were discovered in the 1980s.

Goldes explained that neither his small company nor the Air Force were interested in publicizing the development. Now that two (three) patents have been approved, he believes it is time to push the idea publicly.

The scientific community may be indifferent due to the inconclusive experimental results with regard to superconductivity. So far, the polymers have not exhibited all the characteristic signatures of genuine superconductivity, although some are present. It is also difficult to decouple the resistive behavior of the electrodes from the polymer at room temperature.
"We can measure zero resistance with tin electrodes when the whole system is cooled to 3.5 Kelvin, at which point the tin becomes a superconductor," Goldes said. So far, attempts to measure zero resistance at room temperature have come up against the problem of resistance at the contact between the electrode and the film.

The claims in the (first) two published patents are more conservative than what is published on Room Temperature Superconductors' Web site ( The patent states that films 100 microns thick have a "room-temperature conductivity in excess of 106 S/cm"; the Web site says conductivities exceed 1011 to 1024. The minimum figure in the patent is about 10 times the room-temperature conductivity of normal metal conductors. Of course, this may represent progress since the patent was issued in 1998.

The problem is evaluating a new compound that is being held as a proprietary product. Goldes said independent groups have prepared samples of the polymer and duplicated the same basic results.

The basic process for producing the highly conducting channels leads to thin films on a conducting substrate. The atactic polymer is initially in a liquid state and is ionized by UV radiation, which generates a population of polarons (the form that free electrons take in a polymer). By applying a large electric field perpendicular to the film, the polarons form into thin threads, 1 to 2 microns in diameter, that extend from the bottom to the top of the film. The polymer is then cured, forming a solid dielectric with highly conducting threads distributed through it.

The second patent describes methods for creating the films and lifting them off to produce thermally insulating conducting films for a variety of applications. The films could provide a protective layer between metal electrodes and a corrosive substance without eliminating electrical conductivity, for example. Another application cited is a dense interconnecting layer for flip-chip mounting of ICs. The films could also be used to form an electrical contact between room-temperature electronics and cooled superconductors, or even long wires of the conducting polymer for electric power. Goldes says his company is pursuing approaches to doing that.

(Note: Three U.S. Patents have now issued, and a very large application is pending. This will be broken into at least five more).

***Back in 2001 -->

Roald Hoffmann, who shared the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1981 and is the Frank H.T. Rhodes Professor in Humane Letters at Cornell, and his postdoctoral associate Wojciech Grochala, discussed their theory of superconductivity of silver fluorides and many complex fluorides (known as fluoroargentates) in the August 3, 2001 issue of the prestigious German journal, Angewandte Chemie. In the time since, there has been no experimental confirmation.

Separately, in the time since 1987, the high-temperature phenomenon of cuprates (compounds containing copper, oxygen and several other elements, such as barium, yttrium or bismuth) remains essentially unexplained. Hoffmann says: "Despite the efforts of the best minds in physics over the past 15 years, I would say this remains the outstanding unsolved problem in condensed matter theory."

One notes that there is no doubt of the high temperature superconductivity of the 1-2-3 cuprate compounds, although there are questions raised by some concerning the anomalous heat in "cold fusion." There is no theory for either.

Carl Sagan at the CSICOP Conference in Seattle, Washington, June 23–26, 1994:

SAME QUESTIONER: I understand that hot fusion takes up a lot more energy than it ultimately produces.

SAGAN: But the margin is shrinking. If it were up to me, there’s nothing in the way of compelling evidence for cold fusion, but if there were such a thing as cold fusion—you know, desktop conversion into enormous energy—we need that. So I can understand why there are companies, especially abroad, that are devoting small resources to it. I don’t think that’s cause for apoplexy. It’ll probably come to nothing, but if there are scientists who want to spend their time on that, let them do it. Maybe they’ll find something else that’s interesting. On hot fusion, the margin, as I said, is shrinking, but the predicted, even optimistic estimates when commercial, large-scale, worldwide hot fusion would be available is too far into the twenty-first century to solve the energy problems we have today.

The energy problems I’m talking about are in particular global warming, the burning of fossil fuels. So what I would encourage is first of all, much greater emphasis on efficient use of fossil fuels—fluorescent rather than incandescent bulbs, you save a factor of several, or to put it another way, with the same amount of photons you put three or four or five times fewer carbon dioxide molecules into the atmosphere from the coal- burning power plant that provides the electricity. And I would put the money into forcing the automobile companies to produce cars that get 75, 85, 95 miles a gallon. Why are we satisfied with 25 miles a gallon when it is commercially perfectly possible to have safe, quick acceleration, spunky-looking cars that are efficient in their burning of petroleum? And then the other area where I would put emphasis is in non-nuclear alternatives to fossil fuel, of which I would stress biomass conversion, solar-electric power, and wind turbines, all of which are technologies that are coming along very swiftly despite, until recently, real hostility in the U.S. government. Let me give you just one political story. There was once a president of the United States recently in the news named Jimmy Carter. He thought that there was an energy problem and he gave, in effect, talks to the nation in his cardigan sweater saying about how you should save electricity. He put into the roof of the White House a solar thermal converter which circulated cold water to the roof, and on sunny days in Washington sunlight heated this water and in repeated passes it made it very hot, and when it was time for a Presidential shower, here was hot water that did not rely on a power plant. He was succeeded by a President named Ronald Reagan. One of the first acts in office of President Reagan was to rip out the solar thermal converter from the roof of the White House at considerable cost—after all, it was in there and working—because he was ideologically opposed to alternatives to fossil fuels. We lost twelve years in research into these alternatives during the Reagan-Bush administration.


**UPDATE. 27 May 09 -->

The above-post is being accessed in the following context:

ajtj: He solicited folks for investments in a superconductor company and was asking for $25k to $100k, a clear violation of policy on IHUB and SI.

Yeah, I got a few of those from Zeev, but I do not believe I saved one. Did anyone ever make any money from that? How about naming the company and let's do a little due diligence.

Also, on investorshub

Apparently, ROOm Temperature Superconductors also is known as ROOTS


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