Chu’s submission to Physical Review Letters was accepted, but, due to the Christmas holidays that intervened, there was a slight delay of two weeks for its publication. In the meantime, the administration of the University of Houston realized that something with potential economic benefit was coming into being at Chu’s laboratory. Roy Weinstein, Dean of the School of Natural Sciences of University of Houston, convinced Chu to submit for a patent, before his article would appear at Physical Review Letters. The lawyer of the University of Houston insisted that such a patent should have been accepted before any publication had reached the academic libraries. The patent was submitted on 12 December 1986.
However, all these events did not really matter; Chu was on the verge of making the discovery of his life. By combining high pressure results, which indicated that TC was increasing with an increase in pressure, and pure intuition, having to do with structural considerations (please keep in mind that the crystallography of Chu’s La-Ba-Cu-O was mostly unknown), Chu and his research team produced a superconductor with a TC close to 100 K! That meant that cheap liquid nitrogen could be used, instead of expensive liquid helium, to transform this material to a superconductor. This was a discovery with potential momentous implications. A really high TC superconductor could create a multibillion dollar market and could lead to applications with beneficial societal impact. This material, created on 29 January 1987, did not contain lanthanum but yttrium instead; the “miracle” material was based on the Y-Ba-Cu-O system.
The time to really apply the full experimental protocol had come: Chu had to make the delicate measurement for the occurrence of the “Meissner Effect”, so he sent to Chao-Yuan Huang of Los Alamos laboratories in New Mexico the precious samples. He also had to isolate and fully characterize the structure of the superconductive phase. Then problems started. At the beginning, for the sake of confidentiality, Chu tasked one of his coworkers to characterize the superconductive phase; that proved to be a tantalizing undertaking, since this coworker was not an expert in XRD analysis. Chu had to trust again Moss’s experimental hardware and Forster, who was eager to put his hands on the new sample. In order to cover his back, Chu did NOT reveal the exact composition to Moss and Forster. As soon as the preliminary analysis was concluded, Chu was pushing Moss to publish. Both men seemed to realize that the stakes were extremely high. However their approach was fundamentally different. Moss refused to publish until a complete crystallographic analysis was made; that meant learning the composition and exact stoichiometry of the “miracle” sample. Chu refused. Moss literally kicked Chu out of his laboratory and forbade Forster to have any other involvement with Chu’s “hocus-pocus”.