(Natural News) Metallic hydrogen is a state of hydrogen wherein the element is able to conduct electricity. Scientists have spent close to a century attempting to create this material. A team of French researchers now claim that they've done it.
Normally, hydrogen isn't a great conductor. However, physicists since the 1930s have suspected that if hydrogen were to be subjected to enough pressure, it can act like an alkali metal, a group of metals that are great at conducting heat and electricity. This hypothesis has never been proven until now.
Paul Loubeyre, research lead and member of the French Atomic Energy Commission, believes he and his team have done the impossible. They say that a sample of hydrogen that they crushed between the points of two diamonds exhibited metallic properties. To put it into perspective, they claim that the hydrogen was put under pressure so substantial that it created around 425 gigapascals of pressure, or around 4.2 million times the atmospheric pressure of the Earth at sea level.
研究负责人、法国原子能委员会成员保罗 · 洛贝尔认为，他和他的团队已经完成了不可能完成的任务。
"Metal hydrogen is the ultimate hydride," said the researchers in their paper, which they published in the journal arXiv. "It may exhibit a room temperature superconductivity, a melting transition at very low temperature into an unusual superconducting- superfluid state, a high protonic diffusion and a high energy density storage." This means that the material can store energy very easily and it can conduct electricity perhaps indefinitely at room temperature.
"金属氢是最终的氢化物，"研究人员在他们发表在 arXiv 杂志上的论文中说。 "它可能表现为室温超导现象，在极低温度下熔化转变为不寻常的超导-超流态，高质子扩散和高能量密度储存。" 这意味着这种材料可以非常容易地储存能量，并且可以在室温下无限期地导电。
The hunt for metallic hydrogen
Researchers have spent decades attempting to create metallic hydrogen. Previous studies came close, having created materials that, at lower pressures, exhibited some of metallic hydrogen's properties. Scientists all over the world want metallic hydrogen because of its potential applications in future technologies, such as for transporting and storing energy. (Related: Researchers design cost-efficient, clean fuel cells that might soon replace traditional gas engines in cars.)
几十年来，研究人员一直试图创造金属氢。之前的研究已经很接近了，他们已经创造出了在较低压力下具有金属氢特性的材料。全世界的科学家都想要金属氢，因为它在未来技术中有潜在的应用，比如运输和储存能量。 (相关: 研究人员设计了低成本、清洁的燃料电池，这种电池可能很快就会取代传统的汽车内燃气发动机。)
Until now, they haven't been successful because of the high amount of pressure required for metallic hydrogen to form. Even many high tech research laboratories don't have the equipment to create the conditions it requires. In laboratory settings, high pressures are generated using devices known as diamond anvil cells, which involve crushing a tiny sample of a material between the points of two extremely durable diamonds. So far, many experiments failed because even the hardest diamond anvil cells tend to shatter if they try to recreate any pressure above 400 gigapascals.
A previous study, conducted in 2016, claimed to have created metallic hydrogen. However, the researchers were only able to publish a limited amount of data. Furthermore, they refused to release the metallic hydrogen sample from the grasp of their diamond anvil cell device for fear of damaging it. Many scientists, including Loubeyre himself, were very critical of their claim and refused to believe it. Their criticisms were heightened when the scientists later claimed that their metallic hydrogen sample was lost when their diamond anvil cell device broke.
Fortunately, Loubeyre has more data to back up his team's claims. For starters, Loubeyre's diamond anvil cells were of a new design developed in 2018, which raised their high-pressure limits. Furthermore, the team claims to have repeated their experiment. They tuned the pressure up and down, causing the material to transition from metallic to non-metallic states.
幸运的是，Loubeyre 有更多的数据支持他的团队的说法。对于初学者来说，Loubeyre 的钻石砧板电池采用了2018年开发的新设计，提高了它们的高压极限。此外，研究小组声称已经重复了他们的实验。他们调整了压力的上下，使材料从金属状态过渡到非金属状态。
However, even this study is under scrutiny because it hasn't been subjected to peer review and Loubeyre's experiments haven't been inspected by the wider community of physicists. But it does have its fair share of allies, with some even going so far as to call this a "Nobel-prize worthy discovery." With Loubeyre's claims yet to be validated, it remains to be seen if metallic hydrogen and its possible applications for future technologies is finally within humanity's grasp.
然而，即使是这项研究也受到了严格审查，因为它没有受到同行的审查，而且 Loubeyre 的实验也没有受到更广泛的物理学家群体的审查。但它确实有自己的盟友，有些人甚至把这称为"值得诺贝尔奖的发现" 随着 Loubeyre 的声明尚未得到验证，金属氢及其对未来技术的可能应用是否最终在人类的掌握之中还有待观察。
4. arxiv. org