Molecular hydrogen can be converted into a solid metallic state, study claims.
Hydrogen is a simple and abundant element in the universe. It is normally found in the form of gas at room temperature. Almost 80 years ago, scientists predicted that molecular hydrogen could be converted into solid, metallic form under intense pressure – a form that only exists in the cores of giant gas planets like Jupiter and Saturn.
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Now a team of Scottish researchers have found that molecular hydrogen can be compressed and converted into a new solid metallic state of hydrogen. Though, the latest research does not claim physically achieving new state yet, it explains the mechanism through which a new state that they call phase V hydrogen can be made and it is certainly a significant step towards creating the strange solid form of hydrogen.
"We think we've reached a state of the material that is probably the precursor to metallic hydrogen.” Ross Howie from Edinburgh University and co-author of the study said.
Every substance can shift from one state to another at its own specific pressure or temperature. Water is the most common example which can be turned from liquid to ice and into steam.
For converting hydrogen into solid form, researchers put a small amount of hydrogen between an apparatus called diamond anvil and squeezed them intensely millions of times the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere.
Diamond anvil is a device consists of two gems placed opposite to each other. It can compress a substance strongly at extreme pressures.
“The volume of hydrogen we use is about a micron cubed – a size that is on the order of a red blood cell.” Phillip Dalladay Simpson lead author of the study told BBC.
“We use brute force – a large lever arm. We apply about a ton of force on the back of the diamonds to generate huge pressures inside the cell.”
At one point, molecular hydrogen converted into metallic form and it was the first time when someone has seen this form of hydrogen at close to room temperature almost 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
The making of ‘phase V’ hydrogen can lead to build ultra fast computers, super rocket fuels and also understanding the interior of hydrogen rich planets such as Saturn and Jupiter.
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The study was published in journal Nature.