Scientists create Metallic Water for The First Time on The Earth

An International Team of Researchers has created Metallic Water on the Earth for the first time by growing a thin layer of a gold-colored metallic water on the outside of a droplet of liquid metal, reports NewAtlas.

We all know that normal tap water behaves like a good conductor of electricity as it contains many salts and impurities. But pure water is a perfect insulator as it contains H2O molecules loosely bound with other H2O molecules via hydrogen bonds.

The valence band electrons are not mobile and to make conduction band electrons as freely moving electrons, water should be pressurized to a great extent so that the orbitals of the outer electrons overlap. By applying pressure we can convert insulators to conductors. In a similar manner, water can show metallic nature under extreme pressure which may exist in the core of large planets like Jupiter.

In this new research, published in the journal Nature, a group of scientists from 11 institutions around the world at the BESSY II in Berlin made Alkali metals react with water which is a well-known process of letting electrons out of the outer shells of their atoms.

But the heat produced during this experiment may ignite the metal which results in fire or an explosion. Sodium and other alkali metals readily catch fire when they come in contact with water. So to avoid this, scientists by using a very careful experimental setup, put a little bit of water on a drop of Sodium-Potassium (Na-K) alloy which is liquid at room temperature.

A time-lapse of the metallic water forming
A time-lapse of the metallic water forming.

This experiment was built in the high vacuum chamber at the U49/2 beamline containing a fine nozzle to drip liquid Na-K alloy. The droplet will swell for about 10 seconds before detaching and with the growing droplet, some water vapors will flow into the chamber forming a very thin layer on the droplet. This results in the movement of electrons and metal cations from alkali alloys to water. These electrons will behave like free electrons in a conduction band.

Dr. Robert Seidel says, “The phase transitions to metallic water are visible with the naked eye. The silvery Na-K droplet covers itself with a golden skin which is very impressive”.

The thin layer of gold was visible for a few seconds. And to see the plasmon frequency and the conduction band scientists used optical reflection spectroscopy and synchrotron X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy.

“Our research not only proved the existence of metallic water on Earth but also characterizes the spectroscopic properties associated with its golden metallic luster”, says Seidel.



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