It is a well-known fact that pure, distilled water does not conduct electricity and is, therefore, an almost perfect insulator. This is because it contains H2O molecules that are loosely linked to one another via hydrogen bonds.
To make such water conduct electricity, you would have to either add something (ie. salt) that’ll make it conductive, or, in this case, produce a conduction band with freely moving electrons. This means water would have to be pressurized to such an extent that the orbitals of the outer electrons overlap, something that is only possible in the core of large planets such as Jupiter.
Now, researchers have conceived of a completely different method to produce an aqueous solution with metallic and conductive properties for the first time ever. They did these experiments at BESSY II, a third-generation synchrotron radiation source that produces extremely bright X-ray light, and managed to avoid a potential explosion by not putting the metal into the water but rather by pouring a bit of water onto the metal.
“You can see the phase transition to metallic water with the naked eye! The silvery sodium-potassium droplet covers itself with a golden glow, which is very impressive,” reported in a statement Dr. Robert Seidel, who supervised the experiments at BESSY II.
“Our study not only shows that metallic water can indeed be produced on Earth, but also characterizes the spectroscopic properties associated with its beautiful golden metallic luster,” added Seidel.
The thin layer of gold-colored metallic water remains visible for a few seconds, enabling the researchers to prove with spectroscopic analyses that it is indeed water in a metallic state. Producing such a state right here on Earth is indeed impressive as it was previously believed it could only happen deep inside large planets.
What still remains unclear is the potential applications of such a technology. What could it be used for and where can we possibly benefit from it?