Hot, compressed sodium chloride stretches fundamental rules of matter
Courtesy of A.R. Oganov and Weiwei Zhang
With a dash of table salt, scientists have created exotic compounds that bend the basic rules of chemical bonds and matter in the universe, researchers report in the Dec. 20 Science.
The team pulled off the spicy chemistry by squeezing grains of sodium chloride between two diamonds while frying the salt with a laser.
The high-temperature, high-pressure conditions mimic those inside stars and planets, says chemist Artem Oganov of Stony Brook University. His team’s discovery that these conditions create unexpected chemicals suggests that alien chemical structures make up a vast fraction of the solar system’s matter.
“This is a new chapter of chemistry,” Oganov says. It means that the rules in chemistry textbooks have much more limited applicability than previously thought, he says.