Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How do you make lithium melt in the cold?

Date:
January 11, 2011
Source:
Carnegie Institution
Summary:
Sophisticated tools allow scientists to subject the basic elements of matter to conditions drastic enough to modify their behavior. By doing this, they can expand our understanding of matter. A research team was able to demonstrate surprising properties of the element lithium under intense pressure and low temperatures.

Sophisticated tools allow scientists to subject the basic elements of matter to conditions drastic enough to modify their behavior. By doing this, they can expand our understanding of matter. A research team including three Carnegie scientists was able to demonstrate surprising properties of the element lithium under intense pressure and low temperatures.

Related Articles


Their results were published Jan. 9 on the Nature Physics website.

Lithium is the first metal in the periodic table and is the least dense solid element at room temperature. It is most commonly known for its use in batteries for consumer electronics, such as cell phones and laptop computers. And, with only three electrons per atom, lithium should behave like a model, simple metal.

However, this research has shown that under pressure ranging between about 395,000 atmospheres (40 GPa) and about 592,000 atmospheres (60 GPa), lithium behaves in a manner that's anything but simple. Not only does it become a liquid at room temperature, but it then refuses to freeze until the temperature reaches a chilly -115o F. At pressures above about 592,000 atmospheres (60 GPa), when lithium does eventually solidify, it is into a range of highly complex, crystalline states. The highest pressure reached in the study was about 1.3 million atmospheres (130 GPa).

The research team, including Malcolm Guthrie, Stanislav Sinogeikin and Ho-kwang (Dave) Mao, of Carnegie's Geophysical Laboratory, believe that this exotic behavior is directly due to the exceptionally low mass of the lithium atom. An elementary result of quantum physics is that atoms continue to move, even when cooled to the lowest possible temperature. As the mass of an atom decreases, the importance of this residual, so called 'zero-point,' energy increases. The researchers speculate that, in the case of lithium, the zero-point energy increases with pressure to the point that melting occurs. This work raises the possibility of uncovering a material which never freezes. The prospect of a metallic liquid at even the lowest temperatures raises the intriguing possibility of an entirely novel material, a superconducting liquid, as proposed previously by theorists for hydrogen at very high pressure.

This work is supported by a research grant from the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and facilities made available by the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility. It is also based on work supported as part of the EFree initiative, funded by the US Department of Energy, Office of Science. HPCAT, where some of the research was conducted, is supported by DOE-BES, DOE-NNSA, and NSF. APS, where some data were collected is supported by DOE-BES, One of the researchers received support from the Royal Society.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Carnegie Institution. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Christophe L. Guillaume, Eugene Gregoryanz, Olga Degtyareva, Malcolm I. McMahon, Michael Hanfland, Shaun Evans, Malcolm Guthrie, Stanislav V. Sinogeikin, H-K. Mao. Cold melting and solid structures of dense lithium. Nature Physics, 2011; DOI: 10.1038/nphys1864

Cite This Page:

Carnegie Institution. "How do you make lithium melt in the cold?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 January 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110110121715.htm>.
Carnegie Institution. (2011, January 11). How do you make lithium melt in the cold?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110110121715.htm
Carnegie Institution. "How do you make lithium melt in the cold?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110110121715.htm (accessed April 18, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

At Least 15 Injured in a California Natural Gas Pipeline Explosion

At Least 15 Injured in a California Natural Gas Pipeline Explosion

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 18, 2015) At least 15 injred after natural gas transmission line ruptures in Fresno, California. Julie Noce reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA Electric Rover Goes for a Spin

NASA Electric Rover Goes for a Spin

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Apr. 17, 2015) NASA&apos;s prototype electric buggy could influence future space rovers and conventional cars. Jim Drury reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Self-Powering Camera

Scientists Create Self-Powering Camera

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Apr. 17, 2015) American scientists build a self-powering camera that captures images without using an external power source, allowing it to operate indefinitely in a well-lit environment. Elly Park reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
The State Of Virtual Reality

The State Of Virtual Reality

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Virtual Reality is still a young industry. What’s on offer and what should we expect from our immersive new future? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins