STATES CHRONICLE – There are currently four known states of matter – gas, liquid, solid, and plasma. However, ever since 1935, it was theorized that hydrogen could reach a fifth state of matter. So, of course, scientists have been trying ever since to reach the Holy Grail of high pressure physics, and they finally did, as scientists get hydrogen into the fifth state of matter – Phase V.
By compressing molecular hydrogen to pressures as high as 3.5 million times the Earth’s atmosphere with the aid of a device called a diamond anvil, scientists from Great Britain were finally able to achieve something that high pressure physicists have been referring to as the holy grail of their field – hydrogen’s fifth state of matter.
First theorized in 1935, Phase V hydrogen isn’t actually that rare – just not on Earth. Hydrogen in its fifth state of matter is quite common in places like stars or much bigger planets like Jupiter, which provide enough pressure for the hydrogen to reach Phase V.
When it was first thought of, the fifth state of metal was thought impossible to achieve, since it required a pressure of 25 billion pascals, and that was simply unfathomable in 1935. Since then, scientists have managed to replicate 10 times the original pressure, and Phase V hydrogen remained a myth.
However, recently, the British team managed to approach something highly similar to what was originally theorized.
By getting two extremely sharp cut diamonds with their tips polished to the width of a human hair, the team trapped a few molecules of hydrogen gas between them, and applied pressures of 3.5 million times that of Earth’s atmosphere to a volume of hydrogen similar to that of a red blood cell.
The scientists are certain that the molecular structure of hydrogen had started to change, however it was way too small to be actually able to tell too much about it.
Another experiment is planned however, where the researchers will raise the pressure by a few tens of gigapacals (tens of billions of pascals), which they claim should be easy since they already reached 400 GPs.
Some of the properties of the Phase V hydrogen, or solid metallic hydrogen would be superconductivity and superfluidity, which would definitely revolutionize technology on Earth when achieved.
Image source: Wikimedia