View Full Version : metallic hydrogen

2003-Oct-03, 10:18 PM
What is metallic hydrogen? I remember reading that it is hypothesized that Jupiter's core is metallic hydrogen. Since the planet doesn't have the size to begin fusion, would H become a solid because of all tremendous pressures? Or would the H atoms be so close together that they would have the properties of a metal like conduction?

2003-Oct-04, 01:44 AM
Interesting. I haven't heard about that. Where did you read it?

Hydrogen does have some metallic properties, for instance it loses an electron easily to become a positive H+ ion (in other words a proton). I've never heard of solid Hydrogen before though.

Perhaps you could do some googling and find out more about this for us.

Cheers big ears!


2003-Oct-04, 03:16 AM
Wow .. hydrogen to metal huh?? Sounds like the alchemists (well not really but similar).

I'd also not heard of it so I went to look it up. It turns out that physicists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have actually done lab experiments and converted hydrogen into a metal. But ... no point in me regurgitating it all seeing as it's all here (http://www-phys.llnl.gov/H_Div/GG/metalhydrofact.html)

2003-Oct-04, 03:47 AM
Thanks Josh. Kashi, I read it in, of all places, an astronomy textbook! It caught my interest and my prof never really explained as well as I wanted.

The article was informative. And Kasi's comment about to ease of stripping an electron makes sense if H is to become a metal with good conductivity. I am just having a hard time getting my brain to conceptualize the idea of metal hydrogen. I mean what would it look like and is it solid like iron of maybe soft and malliable like a putty? I noticed the article said it could be used as an explosive or rocket fuel depending on the rate of energy release.

How could the superconductivity of metallic hydrogen be used for energy purposes here on Earth? Could this be utilized as the fuel needed to someday visit another star? There is abundent H out there! Any thoughts?

2003-Oct-04, 07:08 AM
I don't know that it would appear like a putty. It might be more like Lithium, which is in the same boat (except 3 protons instead of 1). Lithium commonly exists in powdered form to my knowledge.

As far as using solid hydrogen as an energy source, I think the energy needed to get it solid (i.e. cold temperatures + compression) would be huge, so it might not be that useful/feasible. There are also super-conductors that will operate at more "friendly" temperatures.


2003-Oct-04, 08:46 PM
I actually heard a lecture on this topic this morning, coincidentally, at a Westinghouse progam. Metalic hydrogen at the core of Jupiter is basically a plasma not unlike the plasma from the sun. It's just under less pressure and heat then the plasma on the sun so no fusion occurs.
The guy who was giving the lecture was from Princeton's Plasma Physics where right now they're trying to get plasma fusion to be a new source of energy in 35 years (it's not that efficient as of right now). He gave a couple URLs of interest and I wrote them down but I don't know where they are right now... if you're interested I'll post them.

2003-Oct-05, 08:27 PM
YES, post the URLs. I'd like to read more.

2003-Oct-06, 01:46 AM
Sure! Let's take a look...

http://www.pppl.gov Plasma Plasma Physics Labratory Site
http://www.iop.org/EJ/journal/0741-3335 Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion Journal
http://www.westinghouse.com/E3e.asp The lecture notes from the lecture on the subject I attended. Kinda fuzzy but might be worth your while.
Other then that there's also a book that was suggested, "The Fourth State of Matter."
Hope this helps! Clear skies and later days.

2003-Oct-06, 07:57 AM
Would you get solid hydrogen at 0 degrees kelvin?

Also you get liquid water at 3500 degrees C in the mantle of Uranus. Thats still liquid because of the emmense pressures exerted onto it.

2003-Oct-06, 12:27 PM
0 degrees Kelvin implies no kinetic energy at all, so matter would cease to exist as we know it.

I haven't had a great deal of time to read those links, but I was wondering if someone could explain how hydrogen in plasma form (i.e. matter that has been striped of its electrons) can be described as a solid?

2003-Oct-10, 01:38 PM
Imagine the stuff is under incredible pressure and heat. All that suff is essentially forced together (despite the like charges), so it is in a way like a solid.
In actuality though, you're right: a plasma is not ACTUALLY a solid. Many people agree that plasma is the fourth state of matter (the others being solid, liquid, and gas) because it is, in essence, so different from a solid. It's just we're stuck on Earth and don't see plasmas much so we're plasma biased. ;) Because a lot of people don't realize this, it is often described as a solid so people can understand it.
Despite our pre-concieved ideas from Earth about the states of matter, 99% of all matter in the observed universe is a plasma...

2003-Oct-10, 06:09 PM
Now you've made me think of another question. Are neutron stars solid? In effect, it is kind of the same thing. A bunch of atoms or parts of atoms squished up close together. Unless the hydrogen is ionized, which would make metallic hydrogen a bunch of protons squished together. Similar to the neutrons of a neutron star, except they don't have a charge. Help me out here!

2003-Oct-12, 06:05 AM
a recently published study on "fourth" states of matter can be found here: here (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/10/031010075634.htm)
interestingly not a plasma so perhaps there's 5 states?...