Phase V: Scientists Catch Glimpse Of Never-Before-Seen State Of Hydrogen That Makes Up Sun’s Center

Scientists have captured for the first time a glimpse of a new state of hydrogen that has remained elusive until now. The phase v hydrogen is a high-pressure form of the element hydrogen that is squeezed until the point it enters a metallic state. The phase v hydrogen is found at the center of large planets in our solar system as well as in the center of the sun.

The Daily Mail reports that scientists were able to confirm for the first time that phase v hydrogen enters a metallic state when under extreme pressure. The researchers used a diamond anvil to create the unprecedented amounts of pressure needed to turn hydrogen into its metallic phase v counterpart. The research was performed at the University of Edinburgh and is the accumulation of 40 years of research. With the diamond anvil method, diamonds are used to squeeze together hydrogen atoms at extreme rates.

It has long been predicted that hydrogen would enter a metallic state if enough pressure was applied. However, researchers at the University of Edinburgh discovered that much higher pressure was needed to make hydrogen enter into a metallic state than previously thought.

“Our study presents the first experimental evidence that hydrogen could behave as predicted, although at much higher pressures than previously thought.”

According to the publication Nature, the team working on the phase v hydrogen project notes that it was predicted 80 years ago that hydrogen would enter a solid, metallic state if enough pressure was applied. The prediction was based on the notion that the H-H bond in the element would break causing hydrogen to enter a new physical state. For the first time in that 80 years since predicting the metallic nature of pressurized hydrogen, scientists were able to observe the breaking of the bond and switch to a metallic form.

So exactly how much pressure needs to be applied for hydrogen to enter its metallic phase? The researchers applied pressure equal to 3.25 million times that of Earth’s atmosphere before the hydrogen’s bond finally broke. However, even the scientists were shocked at what they witnessed when the bond finally gave way and the hydrogen entered the metallic phase v.

“Under this extremely high pressure, the molecules in the element began to separate into single atoms, while electrons were observed to behave like those of a metal.”

With the strange findings, the researchers say there is still much work to be done, and if hydrogen were to enter a “pure” metallic state, it would require even more pressure, such as that from the sun or center of planetary bodies. However, the latest studies will bring scientists one step closer to creating metallic hydrogen here on earth and has visually confirmed what scientists have believed for eight decades to be true.

What do you think about the University of Edinburgh’s feat of applying so much pressure to a hydrogen atom that it moved into a metallic state? Do you think scientists will eventually be able to create phase v metallic hydrogen that is pure here on earth? What potential uses do you think scientists could find for the super-pressurized solid hydrogen?

[Image via Philip Dalladay-Simpson and Eugene Gregoryanz/Science Alert]