CAMBRIDGE (CBS) – Harvard University researchers are touting a scientific breakthrough as something that could lead to “revolutionary new materials.”

Science professor Isaac Silvera and his postdoctoral fellow Ranga Dias say they’ve created metallic hydrogen for the first time. The university says it’s the rarest material on Earth and it could become one of the most valuable.

“This is the Holy Grail of high-pressure physics,” Silvera said in a statement.

Metallic hydrogen was only a theory before. The researchers say they used diamonds to squeeze a small hydrogen sample with a pressure of 71.7 million pounds per square inch.

Magnified view of metallic hydrogen (Image credit Isaac Silvera/Harvard University)

Magnified view of metallic hydrogen (Image credit Isaac Silvera/Harvard University)

The new material could one day be used as a room temperature superconductor, which might make futuristic transportation, like levitating high-speed trains, feasible. Converting metallic hydrogen back to its molecular form would also release an enormous amount of energy that could propel rockets to make outer space exploration easier.

However, one scientific journal is casting doubt on the report. Nature says they’ve heard from five experts saying they want more evidence, questioning whether the material created is actually hydrogen.

Comments (3)
  1. Pete Theriot says:

    What sort of vessel could they use to contain that sort of pressure? I am not a scientist but have worked with some pretty extreme pressures and I can not conceive anything that could contain that sort of pressure or anything that could produce that sort of pressure.

    1. Ken Scholz says:

      It appears that they used a Diamond Anvil Cell. These are described in Wikipedia.

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