Silvera, Dias Announce Creation of Metallic Hydrogen

January 27, 2017

Microscopic images of the stages in the creation of atomic molecular hydrogen: Transparent molecular hydrogen (left) at about 200 GPa, which is converted into black molecular hydrogen, and finally reflective atomic metallic hydrogen at 495 GPa. [Courtesy of Isaac Silvera]

Nearly a century after it was theorized, Harvard scientists report they have succeeded in creating the rarest material on the planet, which could eventually develop into one of its most valuable.

Thomas D. Cabot Professor of the Natural Sciences Isaac Silvera and postdoctoral fellow Ranga Dias have long sought the material, called atomic metallic hydrogen. In addition to helping scientists answer some fundamental questions about the nature of matter, the material is theorized to have a wide range of applications, including as a room-temperature superconductor. Their research is described in a paper published today in Science.

"This is the Holy Grail of high-pressure physics," Silvera said of the quest to find the material. "It’s the first-ever sample of metallic hydrogen on Earth, so when you’re looking at it, you’re looking at something that’s never existed before..."

Continue reading "Advance in high-pressure physics" by Peter Reuell in the Harvard Gazette (Jan 26, 2017). See also the original paper: R.P. Dias, I.F. Silvera, "Observation of the Wigner-Huntington transition to metallic hydrogen," Science (Jan 26, 2017) DOI: 10.1126/science.aal1579.