U.S. scientists have succeeded in squeezing hydrogen so intensely that it has turned into a metal, creating an entirely new material that might be used as a highly efficient electricity conductor at room temperatures. The discovery, published in the journal Science on Thursday, provides the first confirmation of a theory proposed in 1935 by physicists Hillard Bell Huntington and Eugene Wigner that hydrogen, normally a gas, could occur in a metallic state if exposed to extreme pressure. Several teams have been racing to develop metallic hydrogen, which is highly prized because of its potential as a superconductor, a material that is extremely efficient at conducting electricity. Currently, superconductors such as those used in a magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, machines must be cooled with liquid helium to keep them at extremely low temperatures, which is costly. “This is the holy grail of high-pressure physics,” Harvard physicist Isaac Silvera, one of the study's authors, said in...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as articles from our international business news partners; ProfileData financial data; and digital access to the Sunday Times and Sunday Times Daily.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.



Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@businesslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now