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Metallic hydrogen makes its debut, maybe

German scientists claim to have produced a long-sought material

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4:18pm, November 16, 2011

Hydrogen gas squeezed at tremendous pressures has transformed into a metal in the laboratory. So say a pair of scientists in Germany, whose bold claim is being met with skepticism.

Many scientists have tried to make metallic hydrogen since its existence was first predicted in 1935. The exotic substance is thought to form at high pressures, such as those in Jupiter’s core. It may be a superconductor at room temperature, useful for making wires that carry electricity with little loss of current. And NASA hopes to one day put it to work as a rocket fuel that would be more powerful than anything around today. 

“Making metallic hydrogen is often considered the Holy Grail for high-pressure physics,” says Mikhail Eremets, a physicist at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany, who with Ivan Troyan reported the results online November 13 in Nature Materials.

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