Nav: Home

Lab discovery gives glimpse of conditions found on other planets

January 06, 2016

Scientists have recreated an elusive form of the material that makes up much of the giant planets in our solar system, and the sun.

Experiments have given a glimpse of a previously unseen form of hydrogen that exists only at extremely high pressures - more than 3 million times that of Earth's atmosphere.

Hydrogen - which is among the most abundant elements in the Universe - is thought to be found in this high-pressure form in the interiors of Jupiter and Saturn.

Researchers around the world have been trying for years to create this form of the element, known as the metallic state, which is considered to be the holy grail of this field of physics. It is believed that this form of hydrogen makes up most of the interiors of Jupiter and Saturn.

The metallic and atomic form of hydrogen, formed at elevated pressures, was first theorised to exist 80 years ago. Scientists have tried to confirm this in lab experiments spanning the past four decades, without success. In this latest study from a team of physicists at the University of Edinburgh, researchers used a pair of diamonds to squeeze hydrogen molecules to record pressures, while analysing their behaviour.

They found that at pressures equivalent to 3.25 million times that of Earth's atmosphere, hydrogen entered a new solid phase - named phase V - and started to show some interesting and unusual properties. Its molecules began to separate into single atoms, while the atoms' electrons began to behave like those of a metal.

The team says that the newly found phase is only the beginning of the molecular separation and that still higher pressures are needed to create the pure atomic and metallic state predicted by theory.

The study, published in Nature, was supported by a Leadership Fellowship from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Professor Eugene Gregoryanz, of the University of Edinburgh's School of Physics and Astronomy, who led the research, said: "The past 30 years of the high-pressure research saw numerous claims of the creation of metallic hydrogen in the laboratory, but all these claims were later disproved. Our study presents the first experimental evidence that hydrogen could behave as predicted, although at much higher pressures than previously thought. The finding will help to advance the fundamental and planetary sciences."
-end-


University of Edinburgh

Related Hydrogen Articles:

Hydrogen energy at the root of life
A team of international researchers in Germany, France and Japan is making progress on answering the question of the origin of life.
Hydrogen alarm for remote hydrogen leak detection
Tomsk Polytechnic University jointly with the University of Chemistry and Technology of Prague proposed new sensors based on widely available optical fiber to ensure accurate detection of hydrogen molecules in the air.
Preparing for the hydrogen economy
In a world first, University of Sydney researchers have found evidence of how hydrogen causes embrittlement of steels.
Hydrogen boride nanosheets: A promising material for hydrogen carrier
Researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology, University of Tsukuba, and colleagues in Japan report a promising hydrogen carrier in the form of hydrogen boride nanosheets.
World's fastest hydrogen sensor could pave the way for clean hydrogen energy
Hydrogen is a clean and renewable energy carrier that can power vehicles, with water as the only emission.
Chemical hydrogen storage system
Hydrogen is a highly attractive, but also highly explosive energy carrier, which requires safe, lightweight and cheap storage as well as transportation systems.
Observing hydrogen's effects in metal
Microscopy technique could help researchers design safer reactor vessels or hydrogen storage tanks.
The 'Batman' in hydrogen fuel cells
In a study published in Nature on Jan. 31, researchers at the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) report advances in the development of hydrogen fuel cells that could increase its application in vehicles, especially in extreme temperatures like cold winters.
Paving the way for more efficient hydrogen cars
Hydrogen-powered vehicles emit only water vapor from their tailpipes, offering a cleaner alternative to fossil-fuel-based transportation.
New catalyst produces cheap hydrogen
QUT chemistry researchers have discovered cheaper and more efficient materials for producing hydrogen for the storage of renewable energy that could replace current water-splitting catalysts.
More Hydrogen News and Hydrogen Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Clint Smith
The killing of George Floyd by a police officer has sparked massive protests nationwide. This hour, writer and scholar Clint Smith reflects on this moment, through conversation, letters, and poetry.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.