Unearthly Materials said it had big-name investors, but not all were on board


He says the startup is on the cusp of superconductor discovery, despite a questionable scientific record.

Since them The superconductors that were discovered 100 years ago seemed a little magical.

You may have seen one on YouTube of the seventh supercooled element sliding across a pool of liquid nitrogen as it boils. Or maybe you’ve been inside a very large one, cooled by liquid helium, which allows doctors to look inside your body as part of an MRI, with powerful magnetic and radio waves.

Despite their extremely low temperature, superconductors have become key players in science, medicine and technology. So you can imagine the excitement when a team of scientists led by Ranga Dias, a professor at the University of Rochester in New York, announced in a paper earlier this month that they had created a superconductor at room temperature. The same magical properties at 69.8 degrees Fahrenheit, exactly.

If the claims are true and scientists can refine the product further, it could be a truly game-changing technology. Fusion reactors that rely on superconducting magnets to confine blazing hot plasma will be smaller and cheaper. The electrical grid stands to change as lossless superconductors make continental power lines a reality. Maglev trains may stop being a joke and become a real alternative to air travel.

To put their research to good use, the paper’s co-authors Dias and Ashkan Salamat formed a company called Universal Materials.

I recently stumbled upon a YouTube recording of Dias claiming to have raised a $1 million seed round and a $20 million Series A for non-animal materials for a Sri Lankan scientific society and university.

In his presentation, Dias also said that he has prominent investors. The $1 million seed round was led by Union Square Ventures’ Albert Wenger, Spotify’s Daniel Eck, Dolby Chairman Peter Gottscher and Wiz co-founder Tavet Hinrichus. the series A Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Open AI’s Sam Altman; Eck and Hinrichus followed.

Although his website is a profit, and LinkedIn lists only six employees, the unknown material is not exactly a secret. But at the same time, the company is not tracked on PitchBook and does not appear on Crunchbase. It’s unusual for a well-known startup to raise $20 million without writing a blog post or issuing a press release.

The holy grail of material science


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