Over the past few years, various scientists have repeatedly stated about the creation of metallic hydrogen — an extraterrestrial substance found in the center of gas giants (planets without a solid surface). However, the scientific community was skeptical about such statements. Almost 90 years after the emergence of the theory of the existence of this material, French researchers were able to synthesize it. It is expected that it will be an electrical conductor of the future.
Back in the 1930s, the British scientist John Bernal suggested that at high pressure, atomic hydrogen, consisting of one proton and one electron, is capable of possessing the properties of alkali metals. In 1935, Eugene Wigner and X. B. Huntington confirmed this theory in the course of calculations, according to which molecular hydrogen passes into the atomic metal phase at a pressure of about 25 GPA. Later, the scientific community came to the conclusion that the pressure should be much higher.
A team of French researchers headed by Paul Lebaron published an article describing his observations of the metal with hydrogen under a pressure greater than the pressure inside the Earth's core. During the experiment, they managed to obtain solid molecular hydrogen by compressing the gaseous between the diamond tips (a kind of anvil) under a pressure of about 310 GPA.
Phase change of hydrogen when exposed to different pressures: 315, 427 and 300 GPa
The successful synthesis of metallic hydrogen was not least due to the experience of other researchers. In order not to repeat the mistakes of their colleagues, who in the course of such experiments broke diamond tips, French scientists have changed their shape. They made the tops of the diamond tips not flat, but toroidal, with a recess in the center. Due to this, they can withstand pressures up to 600 GPA.
Diamond tip french scientists. The diameter of the ring cracks in the center is about 150 microns
The researchers claim that they compressed hydrogen gas so much that the quantum effects that appeared in it allowed electrons to pass through the sample, as in a metal. It is believed that metallic hydrogen can be used as a conductor for the electronics of the future and an element of a new rocket fuel.
“I believe that this is truly a discovery worthy of the Nobel Prize,” said physicist from the Argonne National Laboratory Madder Somayazulu.