Insulator-metal transition in dense fluid deuterium

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Science  17 Aug 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6403, pp. 677-682
DOI: 10.1126/science.aat0970

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Laser-shocking deuterium into metal

The conditions in which hydrogen disassociates and becomes an atomic metal occur in high-energy-density environments, such as the interiors of giant planets and nuclear explosions. Celliers et al. trained 168 lasers on deuterium samples at the National Ignition Facility to measure the pressure and temperature conditions of the hydrogen transition. Careful optical measurements led to the addition of four new points on the phase diagram, consistent with static estimates and theoretical calculations.

Science, this issue p. 677


Dense fluid metallic hydrogen occupies the interiors of Jupiter, Saturn, and many extrasolar planets, where pressures reach millions of atmospheres. Planetary structure models must describe accurately the transition from the outer molecular envelopes to the interior metallic regions. We report optical measurements of dynamically compressed fluid deuterium to 600 gigapascals (GPa) that reveal an increasing refractive index, the onset of absorption of visible light near 150 GPa, and a transition to metal-like reflectivity (exceeding 30%) near 200 GPa, all at temperatures below 2000 kelvin. Our measurements and analysis address existing discrepancies between static and dynamic experiments for the insulator-metal transition in dense fluid hydrogen isotopes. They also provide new benchmarks for the theoretical calculations used to construct planetary models.

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