Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Under pressure, sodium, hydrogen could undergo a metamorphosis, emerging as superconductor

Date:
June 13, 2011
Source:
University at Buffalo
Summary:
In the search for superconductors, finding ways to compress hydrogen into a metal has been a point of focus ever since scientists predicted many years ago that electricity would flow, uninhibited, through such a material.

UB chemist Eva Zurek and a colleague have proposed that hydrogen may be metalized by adding sodium, resulting in a compound that could possibly lead to a new superconducting metal.
Credit: Image courtesy of University at Buffalo

In the search for superconductors, finding ways to compress hydrogen into a metal has been a point of focus ever since scientists predicted many years ago that electricity would flow, uninhibited, through such a material.

Liquid metallic hydrogen is thought to exist in the high-gravity interiors of Jupiter and Saturn. But so far, on Earth, researchers have been unable to use static compression techniques to squeeze hydrogen under high enough pressures to convert it into a metal. Shock-wave methods have been successful, but as experiments with diamond anvil cells have shown, hydrogen remains an insulator even under pressures equivalent to those found in Earth's core.

To circumvent the problem, a pair of University at Buffalo chemists has proposed an alternative solution for metallizing hydrogen: Add sodium to hydrogen, they say, and it just might be possible to convert the compound into a superconducting metal under significantly lower pressures.

The research, published June 10 in Physical Review Letters, details the findings of UB Assistant Professor Eva Zurek and UB postdoctoral associate Pio Baettig.

Using an open-source computer program that UB PhD student David Lonie designed, Zurek and Baettig looked for sodium polyhydrides that, under pressure, would be viable superconductor candidates. The program, XtalOpt <http://xtalopt.openmolecules.net>, is an evolutionary algorithm that incorporates quantum mechanical calculations to determine the most stable geometries or crystal structures of solids.

In analyzing the results, Baettig and Zurek found that NaH9, which contains one sodium atom for every nine hydrogen atoms, is predicted to become metallic at an experimentally achievable pressure of about 250 gigapascals -- about 2.5 million times Earth's standard atmospheric pressure, but less than the pressure at Earth's core (about 3.5 million atmospheres).

"It is very basic research," says Zurek, a theoretical chemist. "But if one could potentially metallize hydrogen using the addition of sodium, it could ultimately help us better understand superconductors and lead to new approaches to designing a room-temperature superconductor."

By permitting electricity to travel freely, without resistance, such a superconductor could dramatically improve the efficiency of power transmission technologies.

Zurek, who joined UB in 2009, conducted research at Cornell University as a postdoctoral associate under Roald Hoffmann, a Nobel Prize-winning theoretical chemist whose research interests include the behavior of matter under high pressure.

In October 2009, Zurek co-authored a paper with Hoffman and other colleagues in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences predicting that LiH6 -- a compound containing one lithium atom for every six hydrogen atoms -- could form as a stable metal at a pressure of around 1 million atmospheres.

Neither LiH6 and NaH9 exists naturally as stable compounds on Earth, but under high pressures, their structure is predicted to be stable.

"One of the things that I always like to emphasize is that chemistry is very different under high pressures," Zurek says. "Our chemical intuition is based upon our experience at one atmosphere. Under pressure, elements that do not usually combine on the Earth's surface may mix, or mix in different proportions. The insulator iodine becomes a metal, and sodium becomes insulating. Our aim is to use the results of computational experiments in order to help develop a chemical intuition under pressure, and to predict new materials with unusual properties."


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University at Buffalo. "Under pressure, sodium, hydrogen could undergo a metamorphosis, emerging as superconductor." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110613162240.htm>.
University at Buffalo. (2011, June 13). Under pressure, sodium, hydrogen could undergo a metamorphosis, emerging as superconductor. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110613162240.htm
University at Buffalo. "Under pressure, sodium, hydrogen could undergo a metamorphosis, emerging as superconductor." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110613162240.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

AP (July 24, 2014) TSA administrator, John Pistole's took part in the Aspen Security Forum 2014, where he answered questions on lifting of the ban on flights into Israel's Tel Aviv airport and whether politics played a role in lifting the ban. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

TheStreet (July 23, 2014) When The Deal's Amanda Levin exclusively reported that Gas Natural had been talking to potential suitors, the Ohio company responded with a flat denial, claiming its board had not talked to anyone about a possible sale. Lo and behold, Canadian utility Algonquin Power and Utilities not only had approached the company, but it did it three times. Its last offer was for $13 per share as Gas Natural's was trading at a 60-day moving average of about $12.50 per share. Now Algonquin, which has a 4.9% stake in Gas Natural, has taken its case to shareholders, calling on them to back its proposals or, possibly, a change in the target's board. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

AP (July 23, 2014) 'Ray' the robotic parking valet at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany lets travelers to avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot before heading to the check-in desk. (July 23) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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