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‘It’s the first-ever sample of metallic hydrogen on Earth, so when you’re looking at it, you’re looking at something that’s never existed before’
Producing metallic hydrogen has been a great challenge to condensed matter physics. Metallic hydrogen may be a room temperature superconductor and metastable when the pressure is released and could have an important impact on energy and rocketry. We have studied solid molecular hydrogen under pressure at low temperatures. At a pressure of 495 GPa hydrogen becomes metallic with reflectivity as high as 0.91. We fit the reflectance using a Drude free electron model to determine the plasma frequency of 32.5 ± 2.1 eV at T = 5.5 K, with a corresponding electron carrier density of 7.7 ± 1.1 × 1023 particles/cm3, consistent with theoretical estimates of the atomic density. The properties are those of an atomic metal. We have produced the Wigner-Huntington dissociative transition to atomic metallic hydrogen in the laboratory.