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Home / Science / Have extreme scientists who destroy hydrogen simply created an exotic material hidden in Jupiter?

Have extreme scientists who destroy hydrogen simply created an exotic material hidden in Jupiter?



  After decades of hunting, physicists claim they made quantum material from the depths of Jupiter

Planet scientists speculate that Jupiter's outer clouds conceal vast pools of pressurized metallic hydrogen.

Credit: NASA / JPL / Space Science Institute [1

9659004] A team of French researchers has posted an article online claiming to have reached the holy grail of high-pressure materials research: the production of metallic hydrogen in a laboratory.

Physicists have suspected since the 1930s that under extreme pressure, hydrogen atoms – the lightest atoms in the periodic table, each with only one proton in the nucleus – could radically change their properties. Under normal circumstances, hydrogen does not conduct electricity well and tends to pair with other hydrogen atoms – much like oxygen. However, physicists believe that hydrogen acts as an alkali metal under sufficient pressure – a group of elements, including lithium and sodium, each containing a single electron in their outermost orbitals, which they can easily exchange. The entire periodic table is organized around this idea with hydrogen in the first column over the other alkali metals. In a laboratory, however, the effect was never clearly established.

In an article published in the pre-printed journal arXiv on June 13 a research team led by Paul Loubeyre of the French Atomic Energy Commission stated that he had pulled the report out. Melted between the tips of two diamonds to the 4.2-million-fold of the atmospheric pressure of the earth at sea level (425 Gigapascal), their hydrogen samples have metallic properties. [6 Important Elements You’ve Never Heard Of]

"Hydrogen is the ultimate hydride," the researchers wrote, pointing to a class of hydrogen-based compounds with extraordinary properties. "It can have superconductivity at room temperature, a very low temperature melt transition to an unusual state of superconductivity and superfluid, high proton diffusion, and high energy density memory."

In other words, it is expected to be a material that conducts indefinitely electricity at room temperature – a useful quantum feature – and stores energy very easily. Normally, superconductors are only superconducting at very low temperatures.

The decades-long hunt for metallic hydrogen has led researchers to a variety of other materials that exhibit at least some of these properties at somewhat lower pressures. To achieve this, the researchers had to mix hydrogen in a complicated way with other compounds. Researchers call them superhydrides. Superhydrides or metallic hydrogen itself could someday lead to significantly improved technologies for energy transport and storage, among other advances, as reported by Live Science

. Planet researchers also believe that metallic hydrogen could lurk in ultra-heavy planets like Jupiter. To understand how all this works, part of the material must be created on Earth.

The problem was that metallic hydrogen appears to form at pressures that exceed the capacity of even the most extreme high-pressure research laboratories. The standard method of producing extreme, sustained pressure in a laboratory is to crush a tiny sample between the tips of two super-hard diamonds. But as Live Science has already reported, even the toughest "diamond anvil cell devices" break after 400 gigapascals.

In 2016, a research team claimed to have generated metallic hydrogen in a diamond anvil device, but only collected limited data. And they were afraid to untangle their sample from the handle of their diamond anvil cell so it would not be damaged. Other researchers, including Loubeyre, told Forbes at the time that they were unconvinced of this paper – that his assertion about metallic hydrogen was based on only a single data point: the reflectivity of the material.

Later, scientists said they had lost their sample after breaking their diamond anamorphic cell device.

The new study justifies their claim to produce metallic hydrogen primarily by how the sample alters the rays of infrared light when the anvil is applied and pressure is released. First, the researchers repeated their experiment and set the pressure up and down to cause the material to "pass" from seemingly metallic to non-metallic states. The key to achieving this high pressure, the authors wrote, was the exact shape of the diamonds, which were perfectly toroidized by a process called focused ion beams.

However, the study has not undergone peer review to see how the larger high-pressure physics community will respond to this claim.

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