Everyone used to laugh at Aquaman. Breathing water may not be a particularly awesome ability when fighting world conquering super villains, but if we were able to, it would change how we live and, quite literally, breathe. A new scientific breakthrough has created a material being called the Aquaman crystal that stores and releases oxygen. This which could allow humans to breathe underwater.
Researchers have synthesized a crystalline material that absorbs oxygen, stores it, and can release it for breathing, according to a press release from the University of Southern Denmark.
Quickly imagining the potential, the crystalline material has already been dubbed the Aquaman Crystal by Uproxx.
“The material is both a sensor, and a container for oxygen – we can use it to bind, store and transport oxygen,” said Professor Christine McKenzie.
A bucket of the so-called Aquaman crystal can suck all oxygen from a room. The absorption rate itself is remarkable. The Aquaman crystal can contain 160 times more of oxygen than the air we breathe. That oxygen can then be stored in the crystal, and released by heating it or subjecting it to low oxygen pressure. It is possible that they will be able to get light to trigger the release of oxygen, as well. Different versions of the Aquaman crystal can absorb oxygen at different rates, taking seconds or hours depending on the make-up and the oxygen surrounding it.
“It is also interesting that the material can absorb and release oxygen many times without losing the ability,” McKenzie added. “It is like dipping a sponge in water, squeezing the water out of it and repeating the process over and over again.”
The Aquaman crystal could replace oxygen tanks either for scuba diving or for those with health problems, yet could store three times as much as a tank. There has also been speculation about even using the Aquaman crystal for space travel.
“This could be valuable for lung patients who today must carry heavy oxygen tanks with them,” Prof. McKenzie explained. “But also divers may one day be able to leave the oxygen tanks at home and instead get oxygen from this material as it ‘filters’ and concentrates oxygen from surrounding air or water. A few grains contain enough oxygen for one breath, and as the material can absorb oxygen from the water around the diver and supply the diver with it, the diver will not need to bring more than these few grains.”
Cobalt is the primary element of the Aquaman crystal, which is bound in an organic molecule.
“Cobalt gives the new material precisely the molecular and electronic structure that enables it to absorb oxygen from its surroundings,” McKenzie said. “Small amounts of metals are essential for the absorption of oxygen, so actually it is not entirely surprising to see this effect in our new material.”
Much still needs to be developed and refined before the Aquaman crystal can be released to the public, but it is a promising discovery. No word yet on whether the Aquaman crystal will be improved to allow talking with fish and riding giant sea horses.
Aquaman is set to play a prominent part in the upcoming Man of Steel sequel Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, which will be released in 2016. Perhaps actor Jason Momoa (or whoever is playing the part) could use the Aquaman crystal for those underwater scenes.
[Image Source: CBR]