Making metallic hydrogen at Harvard | Summary and Q&A

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January 25, 2017
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Harvard University
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Making metallic hydrogen at Harvard

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Summary

In this video, the speaker introduces a new material called metallic hydrogen. They explain that hydrogen is typically a gas at room temperature, but at lower temperatures, it can liquefy and even solidify. By compressing hydrogen to a high enough density, it can form an atomic solid, which exhibits metallic properties. The speaker demonstrates a device in which two diamonds are used to exert high pressure on the hydrogen, causing it to solidify. They also discuss potential applications of metallic hydrogen, such as electrical wires with zero dissipation, magnets for MRI machines that work at room temperature, and its potential use in rocketry to revolutionize space travel.

Questions & Answers

Q: What is metallic hydrogen and how is it different from regular hydrogen?

Metallic hydrogen is a new material that has never existed on Earth before. While regular hydrogen exists as a gas at room temperature, metallic hydrogen is formed by compressing hydrogen to a high enough density, causing the molecules to dissociate and form an atomic solid with metallic properties.

Q: How is metallic hydrogen created?

Metallic hydrogen is created by compressing hydrogen to a high enough density. The speaker demonstrates a device with two diamonds that are used to exert high pressure on the hydrogen, causing it to solidify.

Q: What are some potential applications of metallic hydrogen?

The potential applications of metallic hydrogen are vast and exciting. One possible application is the creation of electrical wires that can conduct electricity across the country without any dissipation. This would revolutionize the way we transmit and distribute electricity. Additionally, metallic hydrogen could be used to create magnets for MRI machines that work at room temperature, eliminating the need for cooling with liquid helium. NASA is also interested in metallic hydrogen because if it is metastable and can be converted back to molecular hydrogen, it would release an enormous amount of energy and could revolutionize rocketry.

Q: Can you explain the process of converting metallic hydrogen back to molecular hydrogen and the energy it releases?

Converting metallic hydrogen back to molecular hydrogen involves causing it to dissociate and return to its original state. This process releases an enormous amount of energy. If achieved, it could potentially revolutionize rocketry by providing a highly efficient and powerful fuel source.

Q: Are there any current real-world applications of metallic hydrogen?

At the time of the video, there are no specific real-world applications of metallic hydrogen. However, the speaker mentions potential applications such as electrical wires and magnets for MRI machines. The true potential of metallic hydrogen is still unknown, and it will require further research and development to determine its practical uses.

Q: What makes metallic hydrogen a potentially revolutionary material?

Metallic hydrogen has the potential to be a revolutionary material due to its unique properties. Its ability to conduct electricity without dissipation could lead to significant advancements in energy transmission and distribution. Additionally, if metallic hydrogen can be converted back to molecular hydrogen, it could provide a highly efficient and powerful fuel source for rocketry. These possibilities make metallic hydrogen an incredibly intriguing material for scientific exploration and technological innovation.

Q: How has NASA supported the research on metallic hydrogen?

NASA has supported some of the research on metallic hydrogen. This is likely due to the potential applications of metallic hydrogen in rocketry. If metallic hydrogen can be converted back to molecular hydrogen, it would release a significant amount of energy, which could greatly improve space travel and make it more efficient.

Q: Are there any challenges or limitations associated with metallic hydrogen?

While metallic hydrogen holds immense promise, there are still challenges and limitations associated with it. One challenge is the need to achieve and maintain extremely high pressures and densities to produce metallic hydrogen. Additionally, further research is required to understand the stability and behaviors of this new material. Despite these challenges, the potential benefits of metallic hydrogen make it an area of great interest and ongoing investigation.

Q: What are some potential future developments related to metallic hydrogen?

The future developments related to metallic hydrogen are uncertain but full of possibilities. The speaker mentions the potential for creating electrical wires and magnets, but the wide range of applications that could be unlocked by metallic hydrogen is currently unknown. Continued research and exploration will help in fully understanding the properties and potential uses of this new material.

Q: How could metallic hydrogen revolutionize various industries?

Metallic hydrogen could revolutionize various industries through its unique properties and potential applications. In the energy industry, the creation of electrical wires with zero dissipation could greatly improve the efficiency of electricity transmission. The medical industry could benefit from magnets made with metallic hydrogen that work at room temperature, eliminating the need for cooling with liquid helium in devices like MRI machines. Additionally, the space industry could see a revolution in rocketry by utilizing metallic hydrogen as a highly efficient and powerful fuel source.

Takeaways

In summary, metallic hydrogen is a new material created by compressing hydrogen to high densities, causing it to solidify and exhibit metallic properties. This material has the potential to revolutionize various industries due to its unique characteristics. Possible applications include electrical wires with zero dissipation, magnets for medical devices working at room temperature, and advancements in rocketry. Although the full extent of its potential is still unknown, ongoing research and development will help uncover the possibilities and limitations of metallic hydrogen.

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