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"This is the holy grail of high-pressure physics," Silvera said. "It's the first-ever sample of metallic hydrogen on Earth, so when you're looking at it, you're looking at something that's never existed before."
To create it, Silvera and Dias squeezed a tiny hydrogen sample at 495 gigapascal, or more than 71.7 million pounds-per-square inch - greater than the pressure at the center of the Earth. At those extreme pressures, Silvera explained, solid molecular hydrogen -which consists of molecules on the lattice sites of the solid - breaks down, and the tightly bound molecules dissociate to transforms into atomic hydrogen, which is a metal.
While the work offers an important new window into understanding the general properties of hydrogen, it also offers tantalizing hints at potentially revolutionary new materials.
"One prediction that's very important is metallic hydrogen is predicted to be meta-stable," Silvera said. "That means if you take the pressure off, it will stay metallic, similar to the way diamonds form from graphite under intense heat and pressure, but remains a diamond when that pressure and heat is removed."
Understanding whether the material is stable is important, Silvera said, because predictions suggest metallic hydrogen could act as a superconductor at room temperatures.
"That would be revolutionary," he said. "As much as 15 percent of energy is lost to dissipation during transmission, so if you could make wires from this material and use them in the electrical grid, it could change that story."
originally posted by: luke1212
a reply to: D8Tee
i think its pretty neat, but at same time a little confused. at first they talk like they have made it already, then when they got to talking about predictions kinda had me thinking they hadn't really made it.
Txchnologist, an online magazine sponsored by General Electric, talked to team member and aerospace engineering PH.D. candidate Ross Cortez, he said "The fusion fuel we're focusing on is deuterium [a stable isotope of hydrogen] and Li6 [a stable isotope of the metal lithium] in a crystal structure."
"That's basically dilithium crystals we're using," he said.
originally posted by: 3danimator2014
I'm not sure why they think metallic H would survive at room temperature and atmospheric pressure, if it's only created under such extremes. Maybe some of you more knowledgeable guys can answer?
The failure happened on Saturday, February 11, when the team was preparing to pack up the sample and move it to the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago for further testing.
But further testing around a week ago caused the diamonds to break and the vice to fail, and the researchers haven't been able to find a trace of the metallic hydrogen since.