The quest for a highly efficient material that serves various purposes like ultra efficient electrical transmission and better fuel for spacecrafts carrying heavier payload etc started some 80 years ago. This was the time, when the scientific community theorized the existence of solid hydrogen and its subsequent production and application. It was one of the most ambitious research works done in the recent times.
The research team at the Harvard university lead by Dias and Silvera, speak about their laboratory approach to achieve the same and the observations that followed. They report that a DAC (diamonfdanvil cell) was used for this purpose that is capable of withstanding pressures as high as 495 GigaPascals. The DAC was chilled to a temperature of about minus 270 Celsius. At this temperature and pressure conditions they observed that the material inside the diamond anvil began to show properties that are usually displayed by metals.
When the pressure was further increased the shiny surface that had began to form inside started transforming into a transparent solid molecular substance. On further increase of pressure with temperature kept constant, the above substance started turning black and thus implying that this substance could be a semi-conductor and hence capable of absorbing light.
This nature of the hydrogen, as discovered by the research team at Harvard wasn’t quite well received with others in the scientific community. Given the fact that such a discover can spell as huge breakthrough in the research and development, even if the findings of the DAC are found to be credible, a lot of challenge remain to be addressed. One of the major challenges would include the procurement and storage of this metastable hydrogen form. The advantages of this wonder material do outweigh the demerits it currently faces on the various production fronts.