Last month, researchers at Harvard revealed they managed to create the very first sample of metallic hydrogen. However, it was reported that this sample went missing inside the Harvard lab. Scientists don’t know it if it somewhere else inside of the room or if it degraded.
The efforts to reproduce this material can be traced back to 1930’s. Finally, scientists at Harvard were able to create the so-called holy grails of physics. It was enclosed in a diamond vice under almost absolute zero conditions, but it has disappeared.
Scientists might reproduce the experiment to create other metallic hydrogen samples. At the moment, they have no clue about the disappearance of what was the only metallic hydrogen sample ever known.
“It’s either someplace at room pressure, very small, or it just turned back into a gas,” said Isaac Silvera, natural sciences professor at Harvard who is also one of the researchers involved in the experiment.
The sample could have degraded
Last month, scientists at Harvard accomplished the creation of the metallic hydrogen, something that had been pursued by scientists over the last eight decades. This sample became the one and only sample known in the Earth.
The material is a superconductor of electricity with no resistance at room temperature. It is considered to be the holy grail of physics.
This sample became the one and only sample known in the Earth. The material is a superconductor of electricity with no resistance at room temperature. It is considered to be the holy grail of physics.
The sample was stored in the lab at a temperature of almost absolute zero in a diamond vice. Silvera and Ranga Dias, who led the research, said they were able to create this tiny sample by compressing hydrogens atoms in a diamond anvil. They put it under an extremely high temperature of 495 gigapascals.
However, this unique piece seems to be missing. Scientists don’t know if it was misplaced – which means it could be somewhere else inside of the lab at room temperature- or if it just degraded back to its natural gas state.
Researchers said that they might attempt to do the experiment again to reproduce the pressure they accomplished when they were able to come up with the metallic hydrogen sample since they don’t know what happened with the first one yet.
There is some skepticism about the experiment
To create the metallic hydrogen sample, the researchers compressed hydrogen atoms in a diamond anvil at really high levels of pressure which made them compress in a metallic form.
The idea of converting hydrogen atoms to a metallic form was first suggested in 1935. However. The diamond holder where it was stored seemed to be destroyed in the process, which was discovered when scientists measured the pressure of the system with a low-pressure laser.
The discovery was criticized by skeptic scientists who were also working on similar experiments, they have put into question how the researchers at Harvard were able to measure the pressure since they relied on imprecise calibration also conducting just one measurement of the sample’s pressure.
This makes it difficult to know if the pressure changed over the length of the experiment and through the lifespan of the metallic hydrogen sample.
If scientists can reproduce the conditions of the experiment hereafter, they’d be changing science. According to Silvera, the metallic hydrogen could be useful in everything from our electrical grid to hospital MRI machines.
Source: Tech Times