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Metallic Hydrogen Disappears After Diamond Vise Shatters

Image: Metallic Hydrogen Disappears After Diamond Vise Shatters

Diamonds used to squeeze hydrogen to pressures above those in Earth's core. (Arizona State University)

By    |   Tuesday, 28 Feb 2017 08:51 AM

The metallic hydrogen that Harvard University physicists claimed was created in a laboratory breakthrough has now disappeared after the diamond vise holding it under great pressure broke.

The ability to turn hydrogen into a metal had been a goal of researchers for more than 80 years and Harvard announced in January that it had done such, according to ScienceAlert.com.

"This is the Holy Grail of high-pressure physics," said Harvard professor Isaac Silvera in January. "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."

The metallic hydrogen had been stored at high pressure between two diamonds in a type of vise. Further testing, though, led to the diamonds breaking and the vise to fail.

Harvard researchers have not been able to find a trace of the metallic hydrogen since, noted ScienceAlert.com

According to the Independent, Silvera said "my heart fell" about the failure after an attempt to measure the pressure using a low-power laser went wrong and shattered the diamonds.

"I've never seen a diamond shatter like that," Silvera said. "It was so powdered on the surface, it looked like baking soda or something like that. I didn't believe it was diamond, it was such a fine powder."

According to Nature, there was already mounting skepticism that the Harvard team actually created metallic hydrogen.

"If they want to be convincing, they have to redo the measurement, really measuring the evolution of pressure," Paul Loubeyre, a physicist at France's Atomic Energy Commission in Bruyères-le-Châtel, told Nature.

Silvera told ScienceAlert.com that he believes his team actually made metallic hydrogen and that their method will be able to be reproduced.

"There's always going to be people who are skeptical of things and my advice to them is to try to reproduce the experiment – we've shown exactly what we did to get to the high pressures and achieve the metallic hydrogen in the lab, so other teams can try it too."

"That's the scientific method, and it's better than just complaining about our results."

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The metallic hydrogen that Harvard University physicists claimed was created in a laboratory breakthrough has now disappeared after the diamond vise holding it under great pressure broke.
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2017-51-28
Tuesday, 28 Feb 2017 08:51 AM
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