In 1935, a new theory was born according to which hydrogen could be turned into a metallic material. There were professors Hillard Bell and Eugene Wigner who found that under a pressure of 250000 atm, an atom of hydrogen should display new properties similar to an alkali metal by losing control of its electrons. There have been more than 80 years since then, and it is only now that this theory became a reality. Scientists were finally able to recreate metallic hydrogen in their laboratory.
The historic discovery was made possible by using two diamond anvils. This system can exert enough pressure on an atom of hydrogen to make it lose hold of electrons and turn it into alkali metal. Isaac Silvera, a condensed matter scientist who works at Harvard University, is one of the authors of the new study. He stated that this material might exist in no place else in this Universe except their lab. Not only that, but this new compound yields unthinkable power.
Due to the fact that the conversion of an atom into a metallic hydrogen requires large amounts of energy, its potential is huge. This process can be reversed and once this happens, all the accumulated energy is released entirely at the same time. Such a reaction is strong enough to fuel the most powerful rocket propellant. However, this idea remains at the level of a theory for the time being.
According to Isaac Silvera, a metal is a material that can conduct electricity in under any circumstances, especially when its temperature is at the absolute zero. By impacting a hydrogen atom with a force that is 246,000 more powerful than the atmospheric pressure, the electrons become out of control. This is the moment when the crystal clear material turns into a reflective and shiny one. Moreover, the material receives other properties that are representative of the alkali metals, including the capacity of conducting electricity.
From now on, scientists will focus on studying the properties of the new metallic hydrogen. At the moment, the team of researchers has not even released the material from the pressure. Thus, they don’t know if the compound is stable. If this happens, the world will enjoy great benefits. Some ways of using this newly discovered material are to create a new generation of MRI machines and even levitating trains. If scientists manage to create large quantities of metallic hydrogen, the rocket industry will explode, and people will travel through space frequently.
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