Science & Technology

Scientists turn water into shiny metal

With enough pressure, anything can be turned into metal, and water is no exception. However, the Czech Academy of Sciences, a scientist in Prague, was able to turn liquid water into a bronze-like metallic state without exerting an ungodly amount of pressure. This makes the result even more impressive.

Electrons from alkali metals diffuse into a thin aqueous layer, giving them metallic properties and a characteristic golden color. Credit: Philip Mason

When pushed in sufficiently tightly, the atoms and molecules become very compressed in the lattice and begin to share external electrons, moving as in the case of copper wire and basically conducting electricity. Good example, 2020, French scientists turned around Hydrogen, the simplest gas in the universe, has become a metal, fulfilling the predictions made by Nobel laureates Eugene Wigner and Hillard Bell Huntington in 1935. In fact, metallic hydrogen is a superconductor that conducts electricity with zero electrical resistance.

To do so, French researchers have exposed hydrogen to a phenomenal pressure of 425 gigapascals. This is more than 4 million times the pressure on the surface of the earth, and even higher. Earth’s inner core.. Therefore, it is impossible to find metallic hydrogen on Earth, but metallic hydrogen is very common on Jupiter and Saturn because it is mostly composed of hydrogen gas and has a stronger internal pressure than Earth. Similarly, Neptune and Uranus are thought to host water in a metallic state, thanks to their enormous pressure.

With the same approach, it takes 15 million bar of pressure to turn water into metal. This is more than three times the requirement for metallic hydrogen. It’s just outside the scope of our current technology. However, Pavel Jungwirth, a physical chemist at the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague, thought that there might be another way to turn water into metal without squeezing it under the pressure of the gas giant’s core.

Jungwirth and fellow chemist Phil Mason wondered if borrowing electrons from the first group of highly reactive elements, alkali metals, could induce water to behave like a metal. Periodic table.. They came up with this idea earlier, Jungwirth and colleagues discovered that under similar conditions, ammonia can be glossy.

However, despite the progress made in this experiment, the researchers faced a predicament. As you can see, alkali metals are so reactive in the presence of water that they tend to react explosively.

The solution was to design an experimental device that dramatically slowed the reaction so that a potentially catastrophic explosion was avoided.

Ironically, the key to mitigating the explosive behavior of the water-alky metal reaction was the adsorption of water at very low pressures, about 7,000 smaller than seen at sea level. This setting ensured that the diffusion of electrons from the alkali metal was faster than the reaction between water and the metal.

Credit: Philip Mason

Researchers filled a syringe with an alkali metal solution consisting of sodium and potassium and placed it in a vacuum chamber. The syringe was remotely triggered to expel a droplet of the mixture exposed to a small amount of water vapor.

Water condensed into each droplet of alkali metal, forming a layer on them that was only one tenth of a micrometer thick. The electrons from the mixture diffuse into the water along with the positive metal ions, giving the water layer a shiny bronze-like shine. The whole lasted only a few seconds, but for all purposes, scientists had just turned water into metal at room temperature. This is a fact confirmed by the synchrotron experiment.

“We have shown that aqueous metal solutions can be prepared by doping large amounts of electrons when water is reacted with alkali metals. Similar metal solutions of liquid ammonia with high concentrations of solvated electrons Although long known and characterized, the explosive interaction between alkali metals and water has so far only allowed the preparation of aqueous solutions with low metal and submetal electron concentrations. ” Is writing.journal Nature..

Scientists turn water into shiny metal Scientists turn water into shiny metal

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