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Science & Technology

Metallic hydrogen created for the first time

January 27, 2017 | Comment icon 16 comments



The hydrogen was subjected to immense pressures. Image Credit: R. Dias and I.F. Silvera
Scientists have succeeded in squeezing hydrogen to such an extreme that is has turned in to a metal.
The remarkable breakthrough was made by two researchers at Harvard University who used diamonds to squeeze a hydrogen sample to pressures greater than those at the Earth's core.

It's a result that was predicted over 80 years ago by Eugene Wigner and Hillard Bell Huntington, two scientists who determined that at sufficient enough pressures it was possible to turn hydrogen in to a metal - something that was impossible to prove at the time.
"If this experiment is reproducible, it solves experimentally one of the major outstanding problems in all of physics," said Jeffrey McMahon from Washington State University.

The scientists behind the achievement now predict that metallic hydrogen, once created, may actually remain in either a solid or liquid state even at normal temperatures and pressures.

It is so dense in fact that it could even prove to be an effective replacement for rocket fuel.



Source: New Scientist | Comments (16)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #7 Posted by Aerosol 6 years ago
I think they need to maintain the pressure while bringing the temperature back to room temperature.
Comment icon #8 Posted by sepulchrave 6 years ago
Yes, they could have done that, and they probably did - as they need to take their diamond anvil cell apart after the experiment anyway. The pressure and temperature are completely separately controlled, so there is no difficulty in keeping the pressure while bringing the sample back to room temperature. It is possible that they cannot reduce the pressure while keeping the sample at low temperature, it depends on how their diamond anvil cell and cryostat are constructed. I am also very sceptical about these findings, although I am not an expert in high pressure studies. A preprint of the autho... [More]
Comment icon #9 Posted by DarkHunter 6 years ago
That chemical reaction wouldn't occur at the temperatures this experiment were done at.  It seems from a very quick and short search, so I might be wrong, that all reactions were aluminum oxide is the reactant are endothermic reactions.  Being endothermic reactions they are all going to need a certain amount of energy going into the reaction for it to occur and since they were taking away massive amounts of energy by keeping it around -270 C (or about 3 K) there just simply isn't enough energy present despite the insanely high pressure for the reaction to occur. If there are any impurities in ... [More]
Comment icon #10 Posted by sepulchrave 6 years ago
What you say is true for bulk reactions, and quite possibly also true in this situation. However I would not 100% rule out the possibility of a reaction under these conditions: Aluminum oxide is a bit tricky. Almost any chemist would say that Al2O3 is stable and that pure Al will oxidize very quickly. However a single-crystal Al2O3(0001) surface actually will naturally form a pure Al surface layer even under ambient conditions (this has been confirmed by several groups, a good study is here, the preprint is available for free here). This has also been confirmed for Al2O3 nanopowders (see here)... [More]
Comment icon #11 Posted by MWoo7 6 years ago
Well I'm sure its in good hands.  Like all the thoughts in here. Theory/SWAG prediction, nice:"According to one theory, metallic hydrogen will be stable at room temperature – a prediction that Professor Silvera said was “very important”. It's still a theory and they are hopeful, but not a steadfast fact. " Regarding tricky,  thought Aluminum oxidized instantly. "I wouldn't claim that a reaction is definitely occurring in this situation, but I wouldn't rule it out either. " hmm COOL! "surface actually will naturally form a pure Al surface layer even under ambient conditions (this has been confi... [More]
Comment icon #12 Posted by MWoo7 6 years ago
Hmmm killed off that thread hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhaha just as dead as can be~ % )
Comment icon #13 Posted by sepulchrave 6 years ago
Well, I had a lot of trouble reading your previous post... wasn't sure whether you were asking questions or what. I suppose you were, here goes: It does; but the oxide layer is several nanometres thick (at least), and the very top few layers will - in some situations at least - revert back to metallic aluminum. It is not 100% whether this will happen in all situations or just in particular crystal facets or phases of aluminum oxide. Superconductive wires must be kept under liquid nitrogen or even liquid helium. Metallic hydrogen has not been made into anything yet. I am not aware of any superc... [More]
Comment icon #14 Posted by White Unicorn 6 years ago
I think if a new atomic lattice was produced which they said happened, it is likely to hold metallic features, just as a diamond doesn't revert back to carbon after high pressure.  Being a mystic that has read many teachings along the alchemy theories and other things.  I personally believe that the water molecule is the source of all creation and that the fire in water actually alludes to hydrogen. I remember in some old alchemy writings that I read  said that a substance in water even produced metal in the planets. I find this a doubly fascinating discovery for science!   
Comment icon #15 Posted by MWoo7 6 years ago
Super sepulchrave much appreciated! Wow, firstly I want to thank you for not tearing in to me and actually looking at my text. I think somewhere there was mention of powerlines, I was thinking well that would be interesting, would be cool if they topped what the kids at Ames were trying a while back. I was just making light of things and basically inquiring and its quite clear now that the superconducting area is so so much different than the basics of electricity and metals in the grid today. Premium, thank you thank you! most excellent and thanks for your time. "revert back to metallic alumi... [More]
Comment icon #16 Posted by seeder 5 years ago
Update:    


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