Dr. Mikhail Eremets from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany, has been awarded an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council to the sum of EUR 1.9 million. The money has been granted to enable the study of molecular hydrogen under extremely high pressure conditions with the objective of achieving its metallic state and thus, superconductivity.
Eremets and his team have recently achieved pressures in the range of 440 GPa (4.4 Megabars); the pressure calculated to be required to turn hydrogen into a metal. In addition to studying metallic hydrogen, Eremets plans to investigate hydrogen-rich compounds such as silane (SiH4) and methane. These materials are expected to form metals at much lower pressures than pure hydrogen, and superconductivity has recently been detected for silane.
Eremets hopes to shed light on some of the basic questions surrounding metallic hydrogen, which is thought to be the main constituent of giant planets and stars.