Negatively charged clusters might exist in outer space
Scientists have produced a new form of hydrogen in the lab — negatively charged hydrogen clusters.
Each cluster consists of hydrogen molecules arranged around a negatively charged hydrogen ion — a single hydrogen atom with an extra electron — at temperatures near absolute zero, the researchers report in the Dec. 30 Physical Review Letters. Similar, positively charged ion clusters have previously been found, but this is the first time scientists have seen negative hydrogen cluster ions beyond the simplest possible pairing of one molecule and one ion.
Physicist Michael Renzler of the University of Innsbruck in Austria and colleagues infused tiny droplets of liquid helium with hydrogen gas. Then, the scientists bombarded the droplets with a beam of electrons, which converted some hydrogen molecules into negatively charged hydrogen ions. Neighboring hydrogen molecules (two bonded hydrogen atoms)