Water in nature carries an electrode, but only thanks to the impurities in it, which dissolve into free ions and allow the electrode to pass through. Purified, distilled water becomes “metallic”, that is, it conducts electricity only under extremely high pressure, which is beyond our current capabilities in the laboratory.
However, as recent researchers have shown for the first time in history, only high pressure can cause metallic properties in distilled water.
When distilled water and electrons share contact with alkali metals, in this case an alloy of sodium and potassium, freely moving charged particles are added and the water becomes metallic.
The electrical conductivity obtained in this way lasts only a few seconds, but is an important step forward in the direct study of this phase of water.
“You can see the phase of transition to metal water with the naked eye! “The silver drop of sodium-potassium is covered with golden light, which is very impressive,” said Robert Zeidel, a physicist at the Helholmtz Center for Materials and Energy in Berlin.
Under sufficiently high pressures, theoretically almost any material can become conductive. The idea is that if we put the atoms close enough to each other, the orbitals of the outer electrons will start to overlap each other, allowing them to move. In the case of water, such a pressure is about 48 megabytes – 48 million times higher than the Earth’s atmospheric pressure at sea level.
Although such pressures are achieved in a laboratory setting, such experiments would be inappropriate for the study of metallic water. Accordingly, a team of researchers led by chemist Pavel Jungvirt of the Czech Academy of Sciences turned to alkali metals.
These substances separate their external electrons very easily, which means that in airtight distilled water, without high pressure, you should be able to excite the electron-sharing properties. However, there is one problem: alkali metals are highly reactive to liquid water, sometimes even to the point of explosion. Just throw a piece of metal in the water and you will see an explosion.
A team of researchers has found a fairly clever way to solve this problem. What if instead of adding metal to the water, we add water to the metal itself?
The group placed a small drop of sodium-potassium alloy in liquid form at room temperature in a vacuum chamber, and then, by vapor deposition, very carefully added a thin layer of distilled water.
Upon contact, electrons and metal cations (positively charged ions) were introduced into the water from the alloy.
This not only gave the water a golden glow, but also made it conductive – just like what we saw in metallic water under high pressure.
This was the confirmation of optical reflection spectroscopy and synchronous X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. The two characteristics – the golden glow and the conductive band – occupied two different frequency ranges, allowing the group to clearly identify both.
In addition to giving us a better idea of this phase of transition here on Earth, this study may also allow us to study in detail the extremely high pressure environments of the large planets.
Liquid metallic hydrogen is thought to swirl in icy planets in the solar system, such as Neptune and Uranus. According to researchers, only Jupiter should have the high pressure required to metallize purified water.
The ability to replicate the entrails of the giant planets of the solar system is truly exciting.
“Our research shows that it is indeed possible to get metallic water on Earth; At the same time, it describes the spectroscopic characteristics of its beautiful, golden metallic glow, ”says physicist Robert Zaidel.