Alloy of hydrogen and oxygen made from water

By | October 27, 2006

Alloy of hydrogen and oxygen made from waterPure water made into a metal. Cool.

Researchers have now used x-rays to dissociate water at high pressure to form a solid mixture–an alloy–of molecular oxygen and molecular hydrogen. The work, by a multi-institutional team that includes Russell Hemley and Ho-kwang Mao of Carnegie’s Geophysical Laboratory, appears in the October 27 issue of Science.

The researchers subjected a sample of water to extremely high pressures–about 170,000 times the pressure at sea level (17 Gigapascals)–using a diamond anvil, and zapped it with high-energy x-rays. Under these conditions, nearly all the water molecules split apart and re-formed into a solid alloy of O2 and H2. X-radiation proved to be the key to cleaving the O-H bonds in water; without it, the water remained in a high-pressure form of ice known as ice VII–one of at least 15 such variants of ice that exist under high pressure and variable temperature conditions. – physorg

An alloy is a combination, either in solution or compound, of two or more elements, at least one of which is a metal, and where the resulting material has metallic properties.

“The existence of this new alloy is very interesting but not hugely surprising,” says Sean McWhinnie, at the Royal Society of Chemistry in London, UK. “Given high enough pressures, even hydrogen will behave as a metal. All, the other heavier elements in hydrogen’s group of the periodic table are metals,” she points out. – newsci

This much pressure happens naturally at more than 300 miles beneath the Earth’s surface.

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