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Low Pressure Superconducting Hydrogen Compound Discovered

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solid-hydrogenWe have always thought of hydrogen as a fuel. Yet, there are many possibilities for this interesting element. Normally found in gaseous state, hydrogen is the most common in the universe.

Recently, scientists from Carnegie Institution in Washington D.C., have found a way to compress hydrogen in such a manner that it becomes not only solid, but turns into a metallic superconducting state.

Hydrogen has only one proton and one neutron – the lightest element of all. Because of its lightness, quantum theories say that hydrogen will have a significant energy even when cooled to very low temperatures, of 14 degrees above absolute zero (-259°C). To obtain a possible metallic form from hydrogen, scientists calculated you would need about 4 million atmospheres of pressure (higher than that in the center of the earth) – not obtainable with our existing technology.

Still, tricking nature, Timothy Strobel, Maddury Somayazulu and Russel Hemley, found a way to make hydrogen turn metallic at much lower pressures (1 million atmospheres). They combined hydrogen with another element, Silicon, creating SiH4.

In their current study, the three scientists present high pressure experiments on a mixture of SiH4 with H2. Using pressures of only ~7.4 GPa, they created a new compound – SiH4(H2)2. Metallic hydrogen at low pressures is the ultimate goal of these scientists.

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