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Books by Johan Prins
The Physics Delusion The Physics Delusion     Superconduction at room temperature without Cooper pairs Superconduction at room temperature without Cooper pairs  
Welcome to the Q&A section
    Since discovering superconduction at room temperature [29-31], many groups of managers, scientists and academics have witnessed the same experiment on different n-type diamond substrates. The results have in all cases been consistent to the ones discussed above. In addition I have given lectures at several universities in South Africa as well as in the USA. Notwithstanding explaining in detail that such a phase has to form and has to be superconducting if band theory (as applied to interfaces) and thermodynamics are correct, and notwithstanding the fact that nobody to date could point out any mistakes in the way I have applied these theories to come to this conclusion, the conclusion that superconduction has been achieved, has been treated with scepticism and even outright disbelief and hostility. Standard questions and objections were neither hallmarked by brilliance nor insight. Nevertheless, these questions have been listed and answered as much as a matter of courtesy as well as information. Accordingly this chapter is concluded by supplying such a list. If the informed and insightful reader finds this irritating, then one can only apologise.
Question 1
Surely your results can be explained by the presence of conducting contamination (perhaps filaments or nano-tubes) between the anode and diamond substrate? After all the diamond resistance is high and would readily mask a low resistance short.
This (impossible) possibility has been thoroughly investigated. The investigation was exhaustive and took months of careful study. Microscopic examination (including scanning electron microscopy) of the diamond’s and anode’s surfaces was done. Filaments were specifically looked for. Many different diamond surfaces were studied and in no case were there any hint of contamination. Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that any conducting contaminant-phase could have grown in an oil-free vacuum of 10-6 mbar maintained by a turbo-pump. In the unlikely event that a contaminant did cause a short, it remains difficult to accept that such a phase would stay electrically intact and well-behaved when the distance between the anode and diamond is varied. In addition, and very importantly, it must be noted that the conducting phase only formed when a suitably doped n-type diamond was used as the substrate; it never formed when other sample substrates were tried. Specifically the phase did not form when (i) p-type diamond was used or (ii) metallic substrates (copper and tungsten-carbide) were used. What is even more significant is that, before the phase formed, the set-up acted exactly as one would expect for a cold cathode when electrons are extracted from an n-type substrate with negative electron affinity (see solid data points Fig. 3.14). Only after a forward current has switched on has it been found that the phase formed. Thus, just before the current switched on, the gap between the diamond’s surface and the anode must have been filled with electrons. The voltage at which the diode switched on was reproducible, no matter how fast the voltage was increased. Why would a contaminant phase then grow at a speed higher than the speed of light in order to replace the electrons?
Question 2
Can your results be explained by the formation of plasmas, perhaps micro-plasmas at dislocations?
At 10-6 mbar it is very unlikely that plasmas would have formed for the voltages used. Occasionally plasmas were, however, generated by mistake. In all such cases the diamond surface, and even the anode surface, was damaged. Such damage could be readily seen with an optical microscope. Micro-plasmas which form at dislocations cause etch pits; such damage was never observed. In addition, oxygen-doped synthetic type Ib diamonds were used as substrates. Such diamonds have very few, if any dislocations. Furthermore, the shape of the IV-curve (see open data points in Fig. 3.14) is not consistent with that of a resistor in series with any plasma. It should be noted that after the conducting phase has formed, it was stable and remained stable even when the vacuum was broken and air let in to full atmospheric pressure. Such stability is not possible for any plasma, as its properties are critically dependent on the level of the vacuum.
Question 3
What do you regard as the most surprising and informative experimental finding?
The most surprising finding is the extreme stability of the conducting phase against:
  • Changes in pressure from high vacuum to atmospheric.
  • Changes in temperature from ambient to 80°C, and possibly even higher.
  • Changes in time; the phase stayed the same for days and weeks with and without the applied voltage.
  • Changes in polarity; extracting electrons from an n-type substrate is one thing while extracting electrons from a gold ball (at room temperature) is quite another! The latter is only possible when the Fermi-level in the gold ball is in alignment with the Fermi-level within the n-type substrate, i.e. there is no field within the gap-material, therefore it has to be superconducting.
Question 4
Should you not rather have formed a Wigner crystal*, where the electrons are arranged periodically on a lattice?
According to Wigner’s analysis, such an arrangement would be insulating. No current flow around the circuit would then be possible.

* Eugene Wigner deduced many years ago that an array of electrons (arranged periodically within a conductor) should form under suitable circumstances. He proposed that this will lead to a metal-insulator transition, i.e. such an array will be insulating. After developing the model espoused in this book, it dawned on me that an array of “orbitals” forming a Wigner-type periodic arrangement does play an important role in superconduction. See sections 9.3.6 and 9.6.2.
Question 5
Have you demonstrated cold cathode action?
Yes and no.
Yes, in that it has been demonstrated clearly that electrons can be extracted from an n-type diamond surface when applying a forward voltage (see solid data points in Fig 3.14).
No, in that it was not possible to keep on accelerating these electrons from the diamond surface to the anode, as is required for cold cathode action. This is prevented by the formation of the superconducting phase. To generate a true cold cathode, it is necessary to modify the near surface properties of the diamond substrate in such a way as to prevent the superconducting phase from forming.**

** A method to achieve this has since been developed and patented.
Question 6
You only show one set of data points. Did you test other diamond substrates with different dopant levels, and were different results obtained?
Many different diamond substrates with different levels of n-type dopants were tested. All produced the same basic result. Depending on the resistance of the diamond substrate the slope of the IV-curve (open data points in Fig. 3.14) changed, as expected. Furthermore the distance between the diamond and the anode above which the phase could not be sustained, increased with increasing dopant density. These results have not been published because they do not add to the understanding of the underlying science involved.

For the record, the following suite of experiments were done:
  • (i) the dopant level was varied
  • (ii) both oxygen and nitrogen donors were used
  • (iii) different crystallographic faces were doped
  • (iv) different types of diamond were doped namely: natural type IIa, synthetic type Ib, synthetic single crystalline CVD surfaces, synthetic polycrystalline surfaces.
  • Question 7
    Why did you not study the effect of a magnetic field, or increased the temperature to the point where the superconducting phase should disappear (i.e. to the critical temperature)?
    The equipment was designed and built to test for cold cathode action. Hence there were no plans to include measurements at higher temperatures than ambient, and certainly not to study the effect of magnetic fields. The temperature of the diamond could be increased to 80 °C, by allowing a large current to flow for a long time through the diamond. The conducting phase remained intact; the overall resistance decreased by the expected amount for the diamond substrate heated to this temperature. Thus the critical temperature has to be higher than this.

    The project budget was terminated before any equipment modifications could be implemented to tackle superconducting issues. Alternative funding could not be generated in order to proceed with such experiments. It should, however, be noted that this is the first experiment ever in which it is actually proved that a current can flow between two contacts without a potential difference between the contacts. For all the other so-called “superconducting” materials (reported to date) it is simply stated, without any real proof, that the electric field between two contacts must be zero. The fact that a magnetic field can cause a non-dissipating circular current in a superconductor does NOT prove that there will not be a potential difference between two contacts. One should realise that after a constant circular current has been established, the applied magnetic field is also constant.

    There is thus no induced electric field in the material and this will also be the case when the material is not a superconductor. There is thus no proof that the circular current has not been generated by the electric field while the magnetic field increased to a constant value. If it has been generated by the induced electric field, it would mean that a potential difference must appear when the same current flows between two contacts. All that a non-dissipating circular current proves is that the charge carriers are not scattering. This is not sufficient to ensure superconduction between two contacts, for example, electrons flow without scattering through a vacuum diode, but the resistance of the diode is not zero.

    From this analysis one really has to conclude that I did the very first experiment ever that proved that a current can flow between two contacts without a potential difference between them, i.e. this experiment is the first experiment that proved that real superconduction can occur. Thus, although the application of magnetic field would be an interesting experiment, it is not necessary to do such an experiment in order to prove that I am the first person ever to prove that real superconduction can take place (and must take place under suitable conditions).
    Question 8
    Are you not just following in the footsteps of Pons and Fleischman with their claim of cold fusion?
    Pons and Fleischman could unfortunately not reproduce their results. My results are completely reproducible anytime anywhere. The experiment works every time the same way, with the same results for each set of inputs. Furthermore, with hindsight it is clear that superconduction could have been predicted from band theory without even having to do the experiment. The experiment has also been demonstrated to scientists and managers of the De Beers organisation. De Beers Industrial Diamond Division (now called Element 6) was sufficiently convinced about the reproducibility to file a patent.
    Question 9
    Your analysis hinges on the requirement that thermodynamic equilibrium has to manifest. What is your justification that you actually have reached equilibrium?
    Thermodynamic equilibrium manifests when macro-parameters (specifically temperature) do not change, even though a change in micro-parameters occurs. In the present case the major macro-parameter (which relates to temperature) is the current. In this experiment equilibrium must thus have manifested (as mandated by the second law of thermodynamics) when the current remained constant for hours and even days on end.
    Question 10
    Will it be relatively straightforward for other laboratories to repeat the experiment and produce the same conducting phase?
    It should be no problem, provided the researchers are really competent in the field of ion implantation into diamond. Diamond substrates are now ubiquitous and can readily be purchased from a variety of suppliers. Instructions on how to suitably dope diamond substrates with either nitrogen or oxygen ions have been published*. The apparatus is simple to duplicate and operate.
    Question 11
    Why has another laboratory not reproduced your results?
    I do not know. The one laboratory which one expects should have tried to reproduce my results is the Technion Group under Rafi Kalish, however, their track record is not very good.* Furthermore, anybody who understands semiconductor device physics should be able to predict that, when a current flows through the circuit, the field between the diamond’s surface and the anode must be identically zero, i.e. superconduction must occur. If I had been clever enough, I should have predicted this outcome without actually having had to do the experiment.

    * The Technion group, for example, criticises my research on doping diamond (unfairly I think) by questioning my use of the Seebeck effect to test whether the resultant condition is n- or p-type. They claim that Seebeck measurements are not reliable. A Seebeck measurement is really a simple (undergraduate) procedure which has been used reliably by many competent scientists worldwide to determine the type of conduction within a semiconductor. I thus find it disconcerting that the Technion group (which claims to play a leading role in research on electronic properties of diamond) admitted in this way that they were incapable of performing such a simple procedure reliably.
    Question 12
    Why do you think that your experimental results cause such strong negative reactions, even downright hostility?
    It really surprises me that (even) scientists can be so dogmatic that they too are willing to reject experimental results in favour of existing theory. “The earth must be stationary!!” In the present case the experimental results are commensurate with the formation of a macro-phase which consists entirely of electrons. The stability of such a phase cannot be explained in terms of classical physics and neither in terms of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics. Both branches of physics accept that singular electron-particles represent reality, and therefore, predict that the electrons should “explode” out of the gap. Hence, if one accepts the experimental findings one is forced to conclude that theoretical physics needs to be amended.** Physics that has lasted almost a century and is littered with Nobel Prizes is not easily dethroned. It is far easier and certainly safer (from a career point of view) to maintain that the experiment must be flawed despite the fact that one cannot find a flaw. F urthermore, if a scientist has written numerous papers based on incorrect assumptions, it must be frightening to accept that you have wasted years of your life. I have sympathy with such persons, but I cannot allow my feelings to stand in the way of scientific progress.

    ** My convictions and predictions are:
  • (i) time and independent verification will show that the experiment is not flawed
  • (ii) theoretical physics will have to be amended (as shown further in this book)
  • (iii) other branches of science will be affected, e.g. chemistry, biology, computing, cosmology
  • (iv) advanced exciting new technologies will arise
  • (v) the experiment will become a classic, rivalling the double-slit experiment that Feynman called “the only mystery in physics”
  • Question 13
    What areas of theoretical physics are inconsistent with your experimental findings?
    The most fundamental conclusion is that the Born-interpretation of the wave function as a probability amplitude has to be wrong. This, in turn, forces one to conclude that we live in a causal universe. Here I am in good company as Einstein always maintained that “God does not play dice”. I am not the first person to cast doubt on the Born-interpretation, but I believe that I am the first person to provide experimental proof that will lead to its demise.
    Question 14
    How does BCS theory fit in with your experimental findings?
    The short answer is that it does not, after all one cannot have a phonon in a vacuum! It is my opinion that the BCS theory (including the tenets of the Ginsberg-Landau approach) cannot explain any form of superconduction because a mechanism is not derivable which can explain how an applied electric field is cancelled within a superconducting phase.