Metallization of Fluid Hydrogen

Research paper by W. J. Nellis, A. A. Louis, N. W. Ashcroft

Indexed on: 19 Aug '97Published on: 19 Aug '97Published in: Physics - Materials Science


The electrical resistivity of liquid hydrogen has been measured at the high dynamic pressures, densities and temperatures that can be achieved with a reverberating shock wave. The resulting data are most naturally interpreted in terms of a continuous transition from a semiconducting to a metallic, largely diatomic fluid, the latter at 140 GPa, (ninefold compression) and 3000 K. While the fluid at these conditions resembles common liquid metals by the scale of its resistivity of 500 micro-ohm-cm, it differs by retaining a strong pairing character, and the precise mechanism by which a metallic state might be attained is still a matter of debate. Some evident possibilities include (i) physics of a largely one-body character, such as a band-overlap transition, (ii) physics of a strong-coupling or many-body character,such as a Mott-Hubbard transition, and (iii) processes in which structural changes are paramount.