Scientists Turned Water Into Metal

Water is considered a vital substance for the human species. Not only is it necessary for our survival, it makes up the majority of our organism and our planet as well. We drink it, use it for preparing meals, personal hygiene, household cleaning, transportation, electricity production and many other things.

In addition, water found in nature conducts electricity, due to the impurities present in it. They dissolve free ions that give the flow of an electrical current. And pure water only becomes “metallic”, ie electronically conductive, at extremely high pressures.

However, the researchers managed to demonstrate for the first time that it is not only at high pressures that this metallicity can be induced in pure water. By placing the pure water in contact with an electron-sharing alkali metal, which in this case was an alloy of sodium and potassium, the free-moving charged particles can be added. This makes the water metallic.


Although this conductivity lasts only a few seconds, this is a significant step for researchers to be able to understand this water phase and be able to study it directly.

“You can see the phase transition to metallic water with the naked eye! The silvery drop of sodium-potassium is covered with a golden glow, which is very impressive”, said physicist Robert Seidel, from Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie, in Germany.

Under high enough pressures, virtually any metal can, in theory, become conductive. That’s because, if you squeeze the atoms tightly enough, the outer electron orbitals will start to overlap. This allows them to move. In the case of water, this pressure is approximately 48 megabars, which is a little less than 48 million times Earth’s atmospheric pressure at sea level.


With these pressures, the experiments carried out would not be ideal for studying metallic water. That’s why the group of scientists, led by organic chemist Pavel Jungwirth of the Czech Academy of Sciences, experimented with alkali metals.

These substances release the outer electrons quite easily. Which is to say, they can induce the electron-sharing properties of pressurized pure water. The only problem is that alkali metals are quite reactive with liquid water. So much so that sometimes it even explodes.

Underground Lakes On Mars Have A New Explanation And It’s Not Water

Ever since man went to the moon, space expeditions and explorations have always hovered over humanity. Humans have dreamed of going to Mars, practically since it was discovered. Even with all the expeditions, very little is known about that planet. It is the second smallest in the solar system, having only 10% of the Earth’s mass. Mars also has the highest known mountain in the entire solar system.

The surface of the Red Planet is known for its extreme aridity. And the whole planet is desert with rocks, sand and ice in some parts. Now, new evidence shows that a network of strange features that have been discovered underground at Mars’ south pole may not actually be liquid saltwater lakes .

New analysis

According to a new analysis, the strange glowing smudges that were collected by radar data from the Mars Express orbiter may have been made from frozen clay. To be more specific, by hydrated aluminum silicates or smectite minerals.

“So far, all the previous articles have only been able to suggest holes in the lakes argument. We are the first article to demonstrate that other material is the most likely cause of observations. Now, our paper offers the first plausible, and considerably more likely, alternative hypothesis to explain the MARSIS observations,” said planetary scientist Isaac Smith of the Planetary Science Institute and York University in Canada.

This started when the team of scientists saw something strange in the data that was collected by MARSIS, which is the sound radar attached to the Mars Express. Underneath the ice cap of Mars was a region that reflected the radar signal in a very strong way. The team found that this consisted of a large pool of liquid water, that is, an underground lake.


Research carried out to monitor this fact showed that this region was not unique. Three other very bright spots were found in the MARSIS data. The discovery was extremely exciting because it suggested that Mars might be habitable by microbial life.

However, other scientists have encountered problems with this. After all, the planet is extremely cold. So cold that it couldn’t have large reservoirs of liquid water, even if it was saturated with salt. So, the situation left a question hanging in the air. If these stains aren’t water, what are they?


After analyzing the data, Smith and his team believe they have found a very plausible explanation.

“Solid clays frozen at cryogenic temperatures can make the reflections. Our study combined theoretical modeling with laboratory measurements and remote sensing observations. Everyone agreed that smectites can do the reflexes. And that smectites are present at the south pole of Mars. It’s the trifeta: measuring the properties of the material, showing that these properties can explain the observation and demonstrating that the materials are present at the place of observation”, he said.

Furthermore, Smith stated that clay is present on nearly 50% of the surface of Mars. And it has a greater concentration in the southern hemisphere, mainly in the southern highlands. There is also abundant evidence that liquid water was present at the Martian south pole more than 100 million years ago.

Because of this, Smith and his team believe that the smectite clays may have formed around the same time and then have been buried beneath the south polar cap. And any ice lost in the clay layer would be replenished in the ice cap above or in the frozen ground below. And so it remains until today.