Harvard Creates First Solid Metallic Hydrogen; Experts Not Convinced

By Anne Dominguez , Jan 28, 2017 03:31 AM EST

More 80 years since it was theorized, researchers at Harvard revealed they have created the very first solid metallic hydrogen on Earth. This is considered a wonder material which can be used in many applications such as super-powerful rocket fuels. However, it looks like some scientists are not convinced with their findings.

Metallic hydrogen first theorized by Eugene Wigner and Hillard Bell Huntington in 1935. It is a type of degenerate matter and in this phase, hydrogen behaves as an electrical conductor. There are speculations of presence of metallic hydrogen in gravitationally compressed interiors of Jupiter, Saturn, and other exoplanets.

Creating Metallic Hydrogen

In a study published in the journal, Science, on Thursday, Jan. 26, Harvard scientists revealed they used an anvil fitting inside a cryostat to cool a hydrogen sample just above absolute zero. They also found a way to remove irregularities in the diamonds and turned the pressure to up to 495 billion pascals which is about 5 million times higher than sea level atmospheric pressure.

They then squeezed their hydrogen gas at high pressure and it started to accumulate to a shiny material. Prof Isaac Silvera of Harvard University revealed that it became a reflective material which they believed was solid metallic hydrogen. The material they got has a reflectivity of 90 percent, which is equivalent to that of aluminium mirror.

Doubts And Criticisms

Some experts are not convinced with their findings. Alexander Goncharov, a geophysicist at the Carnegie Institution for Science questioned their methods saying the material might not be hydrogen. Paul Loubeyre, a physicist at France's Atomic Energy Commission in Bruyères-le-Châtel urged the researchers to redo their measurements of the pressure.

"I don't think the paper is convincing at all," Loubeyre told Nature. "If they want to be convincing, they have to redo the measurement, really measuring the evolution of pressure. Then they have to show that, in this pressure range, the alumina is not becoming metallic," he added. Meanwhile, Eugene Gregoryanz, a physicist at the University of Edinburgh shares the same opinion as Loubeyre, He described the paper on solid metallic hydrogen as "complete garbage," cited The BBC.

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