Journal retracts second article led by UR physicist

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The scientific journal Nature has retracted a second paper led by University of Rochester physicist Ranga Dias.

The retraction of an article published by the journal last March comes several years after Dias, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and UR Laboratory of Laser Energetics researcher, drew laudatory worldwide attention for his claim to have discovered a room-temperature electrical superconductor.

Ranga Dias (Photo: UR)

Discovery of a substance capable of room-temperature superconductivity could spark a scientific revolution. Such a substance has long been considered a holy grail that could yield vastly faster computing time and innovations like levitating hover boards.  

In 2021, Time magazine wrote that thanks to Dias, researchers might finally succeed in the 21st century of reaching a long-sought goal that had eluded their 20th century predecessors. Since then, his work has been increasingly widely questioned.

Nature pulled an earlier paper of Dias’ last year after a growing body of evidence suggested that Dias’ claims were not holding up.

Announced Nov. 7, the second Nature retraction was spurred by requests from eight of Dias’ co-authors.

The journal’sretraction of the second Dias paper comes “at the request of the authors Nathan Dasenbrock-Gammon, Elliot Snider, Raymond McBride, Hiranya Pasan, Dylan Durkee, Sachith E. Dissanayake, Keith V. Lawler and Ashkan Salamat. They have expressed the view as researchers who contributed to the work that the published paper does not accurately reflect the provenance of the investigated materials, the experimental measurements undertaken and the data-processing protocols applied. The above-named authors have concluded that these issues undermine the integrity of the published paper,” the Nature retraction notice states.

In August, the journal Physical Review Letters retracted an article by Dias and a co-author.

Earlier this year, the journal Science detailed plagiarism accusations against Dias, who has been accused of plagiarizing his 2013 doctoral thesis.

Contacted by email, Dias replied with a statement:

“A representative speaking on behalf of Ranga Dias has officially communicated that Nature is cognizant of the fact that Ranga Dias, Nugzari Khalvashi-Sutter, and Sasanka Munasinghe have not consented to the retraction. Ranga Dias has denied the co-author’s claims and provided Nature with a comprehensive rebuttal. Moreover, the scientific findings in the paper serve as the basis for the now-complaining co-authors’ thesis in support of their PhDs. 

“Ranga Dias refutes any allegations of research misconduct and remains steadfast in supporting all the scientific conclusions presented in the paper. Professor Dias intends to resubmit the scientific paper to a journal with a more independent editorial process.”

The Beacon also contacted UR. A university spokesperson provided this statement:

“The University of Rochester is committed to academic integrity and takes very seriously the recent concerns about a number of scientific papers (Nature 2020; Physical Review Letters, 2021; Nature, 2023) co-authored by Professor Ranga Dias. The University has a comprehensive investigation underway into questions raised about the integrity of data across multiple papers led by Professor Dias. This investigation is ongoing and is being conducted by experts who are external to the University of Rochester.”

Will Astor is Rochester Beacon senior writer. The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected]

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