Researchers successfully transform liquid deuterium into a metal

June 26, 2015 by Bob Yirka report
Schematic phase diagram of hydrogen. The figure shows the four known solid phases I to IV and two observed liquid phases, together with the predicted atomic liquid. Blue rings imply rotating quantum molecules, wiggly lines imply entangled rotor state, and solid bonds are where calculation shows a covalent bond. Credit: Science 26 June 2015: Vol. 348 no. 6242 pp. 1429-1430. DOI: 10.1126/science.aac6626

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers working at Sandia National Labs working with another team from the University of Rostock in Germany, has succeeded in squeezing liquid deuterium into becoming what appeared to be a metal. In their paper published in the journal Science, the team describes their new technique which has brought researchers closer to the ultimate goal of creating solid metallic hydrogen.

Back in 1935, a pair of researchers, Hillard Bell Huntington and Eugene Wigner first showed via theory that it should be possible to create solid —all that was needed was sufficient pressure. Since that time, various teams have attempted to prove that theory correct, but to date, none have been successful. In this new effort, the research team has developed a new way to add pressure that does not cause other problems. Other than pride, the only real benefit of pursuing the objective is the information that can be gleaned from such efforts, information that might prove useful in studying other planets, for example—it could shed light on the forces necessary to produce observed phenomenon.

Up till now, the technique used to pressurize , has been based on squeezing samples of it between two diamond tips—such experiments have shown that it is possible to get compounds rich in hydrogen to become metal-like.

In this new effort, the researchers noted that using the dual diamond tip approach was unlikely to result in achieving the ultimate goal due to the problem of sample materials becoming too reactive. They chose to go another route, making use of the massive Sandia Z machine—it is capable of creating magnetic fields up to 20 mega gauss—they first pressurized a sample of liquid (a ) then caused a jolt of current from the Z machine to move through an electrode, which in turn hit the front of the container holding the deuterium—that caused a shockwave to move through the sample, condensing it further. As the material was condensed, the researchers measured how well the sample reflected light, a common means for identifying a metal. As the sample was condensed, it moved from a transparent state, to one that was reflective. This, the team claims, shows that the material clearly moved from an insulator to a metal.

The results by this new team are the closest yet to creating solid metallic hydrogen and add further proof that it can be done, if the right means are applied. It will also likely rekindle efforts by others to be the first to reach the goal.

Explore further: Pair claim they have turned hydrogen to metal

More information: Direct observation of an abrupt insulator-to-metal transition in dense liquid deuterium, Science 26 June 2015: Vol. 348 no. 6242 pp. 1455-1460. DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa7471

ABSTRACT
Eighty years ago, it was proposed that solid hydrogen would become metallic at sufficiently high density. Despite numerous investigations, this transition has not yet been experimentally observed. More recently, there has been much interest in the analog of this predicted metallic transition in the dense liquid, due to its relevance to planetary science. Here, we show direct observation of an abrupt insulator-to-metal transition in dense liquid deuterium. Experimental determination of the location of this transition provides a much-needed benchmark for theory and may constrain the region of hydrogen-helium immiscibility and the boundary-layer pressure in standard models of the internal structure of gas-giant planets.

Press release

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6 comments

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howhot2
5 / 5 (1) Jun 26, 2015
Hum. The article needs expansion; It says "squeezing liquid deuterium" and then says "creating solid metallic hydrogen" Solid metallic Deuterium may have some very interesting nuclear and quantum mechanical properties and certainly metallic hydrogen has all kind of interesting astrophysical properties we would like to know. Anyway.. pretty cool that Z-machine.

docile
Jun 26, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
mikael_murstam
3 / 5 (1) Jun 27, 2015
Maybe this hydrogen metal can be used in fusion because it would lead electricity (right?) which would in turn mean that it could be manipulated by an external magnetic field.
rufusgwarren
4 / 5 (1) Jun 27, 2015
The light would be polarized from a metal surface; however, the un-polarized light causes a current upon the surface of the metal. Here, it may be spin, configuration, wobble, etc.. So does a mode exist for reestablishing order as helium? Or ...
saccoflame
not rated yet Jun 29, 2015
I am still embarrassed about forty years ago, I was on a commercial flight. I was reading Scientific American. I read a story that claimed that scientists have turned hydrogen into a mental. Every story acts like they have piles of the metallic hydrogen laying around. I put down the magazine and say that's incredible. The guy next to me says what? I tell him that they just turned hydrogen into metal. He looked very sad I said do you realize how important that is. He said yes I was working on the team mentioned in the article but I gave up two years ago and got a job in industry. I guess I missed out. I will have to call my friends and congratulate them. I felt awful when I found out the article was false. Articles also act like it has been done when they ever they take a baby step. They don't know the harm they cause.
PPihkala
not rated yet Jul 14, 2015
I felt awful when I found out the article was false. Articles also act like it has been done when they ever they take a baby step. They don't know the harm they cause.

One needs always to check the original article to find out if the article referring to it has been written correctly. And then of course check the original too, for making the right conclusions. Actually peer review usually soon will tell if the original was a correct study.

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