Physicists at Harvard University claim that they managed to develop metallic hydrogen. They have compressed hydrogen at enormous pressures in such a way that the gas transformed into a shiny metal. This was a dream long desired by scientists to become a reality. They have been trying to accomplish their goal for 80 years.
- For more than 80 years, scientists have struggled to develop metallic hydrogen.
- Finally, two physicists at Harvard University managed to achieve this dream.
- The report containing their first observation was published on January 26 in Science magazine.
Nevertheless, many scientists have doubts regarding the success of this experiment. It is hard for some to believe that they achieved their dream after so many failed attempts. Isaac Silvera together with Ranga Dias, who are both physicists at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, first reported their results on the arXiv server last October.
The outcomes of the experiment attracted a lot of criticism. After being analyzed again, their report was published in Science magazine on January 26. However, skeptics claim that it barely includes new data. Paul Loubeyre, a physicist at France’s Atomic Energy Commission in Bruyeres-le-Chatel, stated that he doesn’t even believe that the new report is convincing, requiring for new evidence.
Nevertheless, Dias and Silvera noted that they wanted to release their first observation before engaging in doing other tests on their newly developed and fragile material. Ever since 1935, a lot of researchers have worked on developing metallic hydrogen in the laboratory. Back then is when they predicted that this experiment could be possible.
If hydrogen is compressed by a large pressure inside an anvil, it should conduct electricity, this being a characteristic of the metallic state. Theorists claim that the material could also have other unknown properties which could allow it to conduct electricity with no resistance, like being a superconductor. What is more, by developing metallic hydrogen, scientists may be able to explore planetary science in the laboratory.
For examples, Jupiter, a gas giant planet, is known to have in its core composition metallic hydrogen. This is what could account for the idea that there exists a magnetic field. Recently, scientists have used samples of hydrogen which were crushed between diamond anvils at pressures greater than those known to be in the center of our planet.
Unfortunately, these experiments are extremely sensitive, and they present a potential for error. As the material is compressed, it changes its color from transparent to dark, suggesting that as electrons gather together, they manage to absorb light photons.
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