Making Metallic Hydrogen

Hydrogen is the simplest atom, composed of a single proton in the center and a single electron around the edge. We think of it in a natural form as a gas, but at low temperatures (-423 F) it will liquefy. Once it’s in liquid form, adding a lot of pressure (5 million atm) can force it into a metallic state. The first sample of metallic hydrogen has been created in a lab.

Just as squeezing carbon atoms into diamond form creates a stable result, it is believed that metallic hydrogen will be stable, although this hypothesis has not yet been tested by releasing the pressure on the sample. If it is stable without pressure, it offers potential as a room temperature superconductor and an excellent rocket fuel.

Making metallic hydrogen at Harvard

– [youtube.com]

Nearly a century after it was theorized, Harvard scientists have succeeded in creating metallic hydrogen. In addition to helping scientists answer fundamental questions about the nature of matter, the material is theorized to have a wide range of applications, ranging from room-temperature superconductors to powerful rocket propellant.

A Breakthrough in High-Pressure Physics – [harvardmagazine.com]

TWO HARVARD SCIENTISTS announced today that they have produced metallic hydrogen. Their feat, which has eluded physicists for more than 80 years, marks an important breakthrough in physics, not only because it demonstrates a fundamental new property of the most abundant element in the universe, but because the metallic form is predicted to remain a superconductor at room temperature. If that turns out to be true, and an efficient means of producing it can be devised, the applied uses of metallic hydrogen could be transformative: superconductors, for example, transmit electricity without resistance and could be used to create lossless, superconducting magnetic storage for the electrical grid, and frictionless maglev trains. Space travel, too, could be fundamentally changed, because the substance’s predicted properties as a rocket fuel would open even the most distant planets in the solar system to exploration.

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